An employee working on a farm resigned after her employer unilaterally changed her place of work, her duties, her hours and her hourly rate. The employer had concerns about the employee’s performance but did not raise them with the employee. The employer instead employed a new worker to carry out her role.

The Employment Relations Authority upheld the employee’s personal grievance claim for unjustified disadvantage and unjustified constructive dismissal.

The ERA found that the employer failed to act as a fair and reasonable employer could in all of the circumstances by failing to discuss his performance concerns with the employee. Instead, the employer unilaterally rearranged the employee’s hours and duties so that he could keep a closer eye on her. The employer also unilaterally changed her place of work in the knowledge that the employee would struggle to arrange her family life around her new role.

The employer did not give the employee a reasonable opportunity to respond to their concerns or to propose an alternative to the unilateral changes. The employee’s feedback was thus not taken into account before the employer made his decision.

The employer also breached his duty of good faith to communicate openly and honestly with the employee by not discussing the employment of the new worker to take over the employee’s role.

The employer’s breaches destroyed the employee’s trust and confidence in the employer, and meant that the employee’s resignation was reasonably foreseeable.

The ERA ordered the employer to pay the employee over $5,300 for lost wages and over $160 in KiwiSaver contribution plus $10,000 compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.