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Always Seek Advice!


In a recent case of RUSH v JSB Construction Limited, heard in the Employment Relations Authority in Whangarei, the employer (JSB Construction Limited) dismissed an employee for allegedly abandoning his employment in accordance with the terms of his employment agreement.

The employee was under the impression that his application for three days annual leave had been approved, and the employer claimed the leave had not been approved.  The employee took his three days annual leave and the employer dismissed him for abandoning his employment in accordance with the abandonment clause in the employee’s agreement.

What the employer did not appreciate was there is a process which must be followed in such circumstances and despite what the employment agreement says, that process must always be followed, otherwise the dismissal becomes unjustified.

In the case of abandonment, often after two or three days absence, the employer must make reasonable effort to contact the employee. Absence without leave does not necessarily mean the employee has abandoned their employment.

In this particular case the employee was awarded three months lost wages plus $15,000 compensation for hurt and humiliation, and is also facing a claim for costs.  The actual cost to the employer could be in the vicinity of $24,000.00 plus costs.  In addition, the employer has to meet their own legal costs.

This is the hard way to learn a very expensive lesson.

In cases of employment disputes and/or disciplinary proceedings, there are pitfalls.  Strict processes must be followed.  Each circumstance varies, and if you are faced with such a situation, the first thing you should do is seek advice .

Employer Services Limited will provide that advice and if necessary actually assist employers with the process where necessary.  For a modest cost we can provide you with assistance and give you comfort that you are “getting it right” the first time.

Read the full Employment Relations Authority decision at: