The Employment Relations Authority recently held that an employee had been unjustifiably dismissed and it awarded six weeks lost pay plus $5,000 for hurt and humiliation suffered.  The findings and associated remedies are not unusual; what was unusual is that the employee had not actually started working for the employer.

The facts of this case are that a trust and a man verbally agreed that the man would commence work as a general manager for the trust.  However, a couple of months after this agreement, but before the man actually started working, the trust had a change of mind and decided the man was not actually the right person for the job.  As a result, the man was told that the offer of employment was withdrawn.

The man filed a personal grievance and brought this matter to the Authority.

The Authority applied the law which states that a person intending to work is an employee.  Since both parties had mutually agreed to enter into an employment relationship, the man should be regarded as an employee as far as the law is concerned.  This meant that he was able to file a personal grievance for being unjustifiably dismissed even before he actually started work.

This case demonstrates that if you have an employment agreement in place, even if it is only a verbal agreement, then your future employees are to be treated in accordance with employment law in a similar manner to current employees.

For advice on employment agreements, personal grievances or other employment issues, feel free to call Alan Knowsley.