An employer has been ordered to pay $27,000 to an employee after the Employment Relations Authority concluded that the employee, who had only worked for the employer for two months, had been unjustifiably dismissed.

The employee raised a personal grievance with the employer and later claimed in the ERA because the employer did not pay the correct wages and later dismissed the employee.

The employer did not attend the ERA hearing. At the investigation meeting, the ERA delayed starting in case the employer or its representative “had become caught up in traffic or had difficulty finding a park”. When a party does not appear at the hearing, the ERA is required to continue as if both parties had engaged in the process.

In the employer’s absence, the ERA considered the employer’s possible arguments or defences.

The ERA concluded that the employee had been unjustifiably dismissed. The employee was awarded:

  • $9,000 in lost wages;
  • $10,000 in compensation for hurt and humiliation;
  • $3,121 in unpaid wages and holiday pay; and
  • legal fees.

In addition, the employer was penalised $2,000 for breaching the Employment Relations Act, with this to be paid to the employee.

In total, the employer was ordered to pay $27,100. This was an expensive outcome for the employer. Not engaging or participating in the personal grievance process did not work out well for the employer.

If they had taken advice before paying the wages incorrectly, before dismissing the employee, and before failing to defend the claim, the outcome may not have been as bad for the employer.

Ben Ruback

Solicitor