process, process, process!

September 10th 2018

Employment issues again hit the headlines in the last month with cases that had gone before the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).  And again, the learning is the importance of PROCESS when considering terminating an employee.

In Queenstown, a carpenter was awarded $24,500 after being unjustifiably dismissed while in Fiji attending the funeral of a close relative.  He was only told his employment had ended when he contacted his employer to see why he hadn’t been paid.  It was then that he was told they’d run out of work for him.

The company, labour hire firm BF7, didn’t file a reply to his claim and nor did they have a representative at the ERA’s investigation meeting, so, as with a disciplinary process, the ERA were forced to make a decision with the information they had at hand.

It appears absolutely no process was followed, and without the company telling their side of the story to explain otherwise, the sudden and abrupt termination of employment was ruled as unjustified and the company were stung with a hefty fine.

In other HR news, a Waiuku Dairy Farmer was saved from having to make a big pay out to a dismissed employee, despite failing to follow a fair and reasonable process.

Not long after the employment relationship began, Stuart Muir, the employer, started having concerns about Daniel & Loretta Smith, including lateness, their aggressive approach towards animals, and attitude.  He also started getting suspicious about the accuracy of their work history.  Unfortunately, his frustrations led to a hasty termination.

The case was taken to the ERA, who ruled the flaws in the process were numerous:

  1. 90 day trial period was not valid because the employee had started work before signing it
  2. The full list of allegations were not outlined to the employee
  3. The employee was not given time to respond
  4. The proposed outcome was not put to the employee for comment before being finalised

Because of these process issues, the dismissal was found to be unjustified, however the employer narrowly avoided coughing up money because it was found that he had in fact lied about his work history!

The ERA deemed the falsification of the CV led to the Smiths gaining a job they wouldn’t have otherwise got, and for that reason, remedies would not have been appropriate.  Lucky escape for the employer!

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Category: disciplinary process

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