A new employer decided to upskill some staff.  This resulted in one employee not being offered any shifts in the following week’s roster.  After the employee was advised of this, he finished his shift early and then didn’t turn up for his next rostered shift – in neither case did he discuss this with the employer.

The employer decided that the employee had abandoned his role and so completed his final pay.  The employee subsequently raised a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal.

The employee’s employment agreement provided that termination by abandonment required an unexplained absence of at least three shifts, as well as reasonable inquiries from the employer to confirm that abandonment had occurred.

The employee had been absent for less than two shifts.  The employer also acknowledged that he had concerns about how the employee would react to the roster – which the ERA thought meant the employer should have felt obliged to enquire about the absences in any event.  The employer made no enquiries.

The act of arranging final pay constituted an act of termination which the ERA found was a dismissal and was unjustified in light of the above.  As a result the ERA found there was a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal and ordered payment of 11 weeks’ wages plus compensation totalling just under $5,000.

One key issue here is the need for employers to look at the specific provisions of the employment agreement for some guidance in such matters.  Even if an employer believes it knows what is in the most recent employment agreements it uses for employees, the actual agreement for this employee is what matters. It may have been entered into some time earlier for example, when different arrangements may have been the norm.

If you are having trouble with staff attendances, or if you think an employee may have abandoned their role, we are able to assist you.  Feel free to call for an initial and confidential chat on (04) 473 6850.