The Employment Relations Authority has upheld an employer’s claim for a breach of its code of conduct.  The employee was involved in a dispute with the employer over his pay level and performance.  He secretly recorded meetings with managers and had access to confidential information from the manager’s laptop.  He also failed to return confidential information after he resigned.

The employer’s code of conduct prohibited the use of recording devices without management approval and also required all company property to be returned upon termination.

The employee brought a claim over the way his salary review was handled, and the ERA awarded him $500 for the failure of the employer to communicate with him that his performance was not up to the standard to justify a salary increase.

This minor breach was held not to have caused the employee to resign, so his constructive dismissal claim failed.

The ERA however held that the employee had breached the code of conduct (which he had signed) by making the secret recordings and by retaining material after he resigned.  He also failed to provide the passwords necessary for the employer to access his laptop.

It ordered him to be penalised $4,000 and for the penalty to be paid to the employer.

It pays to have clear rules of conduct and to make sure those are given to employees and acknowledged.  If they are, then they can be enforced.