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One of the websites we often find useful is Employers Assistance Ltd and recently they reported on a change at the Employment Relations Authority, one we thought well worth sharing with you.
From their newsletter:
Recent Employment Relations Authority (ERA) cases have amply demonstrated the state of the nation with respect to employee awards for poor terminations.
Sacked for taking ‘sickies’ a Palmerston North roofer got awarded $20,000, $12,000 of which was for hurt and humiliation. The employer had also refused to attend the ERA hearing.
A Christchurch man who worked 7 days, sacked by text message awarded a total of $26,500 by the ERA. $15,000 of which was for hurt and humiliation. Again, the employer failed to turn up for the ERA. The Employer here was also fined $2000 for failing to provide an Employment Agreement.
Lyttelton Port Company have been found wanting for unfairly dismissing a worker for repeatedly leaving work early. $45,000 in total plus reinstating the worker. $20,000 for hurt and humiliation in this case.
A successful personal grievance is not entirely unexpected when you sack someone via text but the real lessons here are the high values of the ‘damages’ portions of the awards. While we used to regularly see $5k to $10k figures there is definitely an upwards shift to the $10k-20k range.
While each case will always have its own merits, it’s fair to say failure to engage with the ERA or Mediation process is not going to reflect well on the Employer and you could be forgiven for thinking had they attended the ERA hearings the employees might not have been quite so hurt and humiliated.
If you are faced with a Personal Grievance, statement of problem or request for mediation, take it seriously. The chances are it won’t go away, and once lodged, employees have the coming 3 years to follow up on it. Engage with the process and get advice if not representation. Contact our team on [email protected].