The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance claim for unjustified dismissal after the employee was alleged to have abandoned her employment.

The employee returned from maternity leave and went onto a two-day week at her request.  Later these hours were again varied by consent.

Problems began when the employee requested to return to full time hours but the employer would not agree.  The employer offered a new employment agreement but the employee refused to sign it and raised a personal grievance.

The ERA held that the employer should have continued to provide work for the agreed days pending any new agreement, instead of putting an ultimatum to the employee to sign the new agreement or there would be no work at all.

The employee was entitled to work the agreed hours and a change could not be imposed without her consent.  If the employer did not have sufficient work it should have gone through a restructuring process and consulted the employee.

The ERA awarded $11,000 wages plus $8,000 compensation, but reduced the awards by 30% because the employee failed to communicate with the employer appropriately when the employer tried to negotiate with her.