The Employment Relations Authority has ordered an employer to pay an employee over $21,000 for unjustified dismissal.

The employee took leave to attend a family gathering. She requested a further week of leave, but that request was declined. However she did not return to work when expected.

A later date was agreed, but the employee did not return on that day either.

The employee returned to work several days later and requested to speak with the employer.

After the meeting, the employee sent the employer an email detailing her understanding of what had been discussed. This included that new staff were hired to replace her, and that she had abandoned her employment. The employer never replied to the email.

The employee assumed she no longer had a job, and immediately began searching for new employment to try and secure an income. The employee found work doing odd jobs, but did not find secure employment for several months.

A month after leaving the employer, and having received no response to her email or follow up message, the employee raised a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal.

The Authority held that despite the employer arguing that the employee had not been dismissed at the meeting, failing to reply to the employee’s email had that effect.

It explained that by failing to reply to the email in a reasonable time, the employer allowed the employee to believe she had been dismissed.

It is important for employers to be open and responsive to all communications with their employees. Failure to do so may result in misunderstandings and potentially expensive grievances.

If there are concerns about how an employer or employee is acting in your employment relationship, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-priced Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer