Employment Dismissal Process

January 30th, 2006 at 9:27 am by David Farrar

One of the biggest criticisms of the current employment law environment is that minor process flaws can make it impossible to sack someone, even if you catch them stealing.

This is shown in this report in the Dominion Post.

Firstly I should comment that process is important. The basic notion that an employee should have the chance to defend themselves is very important. There may be factors unknown to the employer.

However in the case linked above the employee, caught on film taking company property, has won $19,000 because of what I have to say is a very minor procedural point.

Basically the employer showed him the film of him removing company property and asked him to comment. Realising he had been caught, he refused to explain. Now the flaw the employer had was not stating the obvious “We believe this video shows you stealing from us”.

I’m appalled that such a minor procedural breach gets the sacked employee walking away with six months salary or so. If they had not confronted him with the video evidence at all that would be a different matter, but come on when your employer shows you a video of you removing company goods, you know what it is about.

The pity with this ruling is it lumps in the genuinely good employers who try their best to be fair, with the genuinely bad employers who do ignore employee rights.

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