The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has upheld a claim for unjustified disadvantage after an employee was suspended.  The employee had gone to a client’s premises and had reported that she was concerned for her safety during the visit.

The employer responded by questioning her competence and required her to go on paid discretionary leave and undergo a psychiatric assessment before she could return to work.  She was given no opportunity to comment or respond to the employer’s concerns and the employer presented her with the decision without any warning.  At the meeting the employee agreed to the leave but the ERA held this was obtained under duress.  She should have been given notice of the concerns and a proper opportunity to respond before decisions to suspend or requiring a psychiatric assessment were made.  The employer had not acted fairly and not followed its own disciplinary policy.  Compensation was awarded to the employee.

The employer had also stopped paying discretionary leave and debited the employee’s sick leave entitlement when the employee produced a medical certificate.  The ERA held that the employer should have continued to pay the employee and not debited her sick leave as she was suspended.