An employee has been dismissed after he txt his employer saying he needed a couple of days off work as he had to look after his children while his partner attended to her dying grandmother. The employer issued the employee with an ultimatum, requiring the employee to return to work or else he would be deemed to have quit.

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

The ERA noted that it is a common misunderstanding among employers that they can treat an employee as having resigned when they fail to do something that they are told to do.

Accordingly, by giving the employee an ultimatum, which the employer knew the employee could not comply with, the employer terminated the employment relationship.

The ERA noted that the employer took no steps to withdraw the ultimatum or to make arrangements for the employee to return to work.

The ERA ordered the employer to pay the employee almost $14,000 for lost wages and holiday pay plus nearly $700 for wage arrears. The employee was also awarded $10,000 in compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.