Both fired employees who took Personal Grievances against them
One employer won his case and got $8,900 from his employee.
The other employer lost and he had to pay $8,500 to his employee.
The difference? Process.....
The company applied to the Employment Relations Authority claiming $9,545 for special damages; $5,000 towards the private investigator's cost, $3,000 for employees' time in investigating the incident and $1,545 in legal costs.
The Authority ordered the ex-manager to pay the company $8,926.41 as a contribution to costs and expenses incurred for investigating and hiring the private investigator agency.
In the second Case, Mr A was a heavy machinery operator. The company's excavator operators were responsible for refuelling the machines with diesel using a company fuel card. The company noticed a difference in fuel consumption between operators. While Mr A was on leave the consumption dropped significantly on the excavator he used.
When he returned from leave he was asked to attend a disciplinary meeting but was not told the purpose of the meeting. It was put to him that he had been stealing diesel from the company and he was shown records of fuel consumption. Mr A "would not confirm or deny" the allegation.
After a brief adjournment the company's management considered that the reason for the excessive amount of fuel used was theft and they dismissed him.
He took a Personal Grievance to the ERA, which considered that his explanations for the discrepancies were not satisfactory, and that the company's evidence showed that the fuel consumption for the machines Mr A used was more than double that of others'. However, the Authority also found that the company had acted in haste and did not follow a fair and reasonable process in either the investigation or the decision to dismiss. He was awarded $5,000 for distress compensation plus costs to be determined between the parties (at a starting point of $3,500).
The essential difference was in the investigation and the process the employers used to dismiss the employees. One did a thorough investigation over time, the second rushed the process and paid the penalty.
When you go down the disciplinary path with any of your employees, there are a number of steps you need to take. Be sure you follow a water tight process and take professional HR advice.
Call Paddy Battersby now on 09 838 6338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss this or any general HR concerns with your business.
Battersby HR Consulting www.battersbyhr.com