The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance claim for unjustified dismissal of a teacher in very shambolic circumstances.

The language school employer needed cover for five weeks due to an unexpected overlap of students.  It approached the teacher who agreed to be an independent contractor for five weeks to cover the overlap.  A poorly drafted contractor agreement was signed.

The teacher commenced work and then claimed that he was an employee rather than an independent contractor.  After negotiations the school agreed to make him an employee on a fixed term agreement to finish at the end of the five weeks.  The teacher agreed.  The employer however never got the employee to actually sign the employment agreement.

At the end of the five weeks the employee then claimed he was a permanent employee and raised a personal grievance with the ERA. The ERA held that the employee knew he was only on a fixed term but that the law requires the reason to be stated in the employment agreement (which was never signed).

As a result the employee was held to be a permanent employee and unjustifiably dismissed at the end of five weeks.

The ERA awarded the employee three weeks lost wages, but refused to award any compensation or costs.

If you need assistance getting your contractor agreements or employment agreements into place give me a call on (04) 473 6850.