The Employment Relations Authority has ordered an employer to pay over $18,000 to an employee who was unjustifiably dismissed.

Following an incident at work, the employer sent the employee away from the premises. The employer intended to create some space so that the parties could ‘cool off’. However, the employee believed that he had been dismissed because he was told to complete his timesheet and return his SIM card.

The following day, the employer attempted to contact the employee to offer an opportunity to explain his actions. However, at that time the employer did not make clear that the employee had not been dismissed. The ERA said that the employee would not have necessarily known that an employer cannot seek to investigate a matter after dismissal.

It was not until the employee responded some 5 days later that the employer realised that the employee believed he had been dismissed.

The ERA found that the employee had been unjustifiably dismissed because the employer had not followed proper process. The employee was awarded $7,600 in lost wages and $10,500 in compensation.

While the employer was aware of the proper process to follow when taking disciplinary steps, in the heat of the moment a failure to follow the proper process proved costly for the employer.

Alan Knowsley