In a recent Employment Relations Authority decision an employee who was sacked after refusing to carry out an illegal instruction has taken a successful personal grievance and been awarded $16,000 in lost wages, damages for hurt & humiliation, and costs.

The employee was given instructions to carry on the employer’s business activities in a way that the employee thought was illegal. The employer retaliated by ordering him to sign a form applying for six months unpaid leave.  When the employee refused he was told not to come back to work. The dismissal was of course held to be unjustified.

Employees do not have to follow unlawful instructions and can refuse to do so.

What is an unlawful instruction may not be that easy to determine.  It would be wise to get advice before deciding not to follow the instruction, or deciding to dismiss for not following instructions, if normal discussion with the employer/employee does not resolve the issue.

If in doubt give me a call on (04) 473 6850.