The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance claim for unjustified disadvantage and unjustified dismissal.  The employee was a duty manager in the hospitality industry.  Due to a shortage of other duty managers she was required to work up to 80 hours per week for several months, despite complaining to her employer about the excessive hours and requesting that other staff be hired to lower her hours of work.  The employer took no steps to hire other staff.

The ERA found that requiring the worker to work these excessive hours impacted her health and safety and the employer was ordered to pay compensation to her. 

An incident arose at work where staff who were rostered on to assist failed to turn up for work.  The employer made no real efforts to arrange alternative staff and this resulted in the duty manager walking out of the premises and going home.  The employer dismissed her by way of text message telling her not to return to the business and that if she returned she would be thrown out.  Somewhat colourful language was used in the text.

The ERA held that this was an unjustified dismissal because no proper process was followed to raise the serious misconduct issue of walking out of the premises during a shift without authority.

The ERA held that walking out of the shift was a contributing factor to the unjustified dismissal and reduced the employee’s remedies by 25%.  This impacted the lost wages that she had suffered following the dismissal and the compensation award.  The award would have been $15,000 but for the 25% reduction.

Employers need to be very careful that they are not impacting employee’s safety by expecting them to work excessive hours on an ongoing basis.

Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer