Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Fire at will" loses in court

Heather Smith used to work at the Stokes Valley Amcal Pharmacy. But after the business changed hands, she was forced to reapply for her job, then put on a 90 day "trial period", despite having worked there for three years. A few weeks later, she was sacked. But now the Employment Court has ruled that she was unfairly dismissed - despite being on a "trial period":

The CTU determination to stick by workers unfairly dismissed under the 90 day law delivered results today after the Employment Court found young pharmacy worker Heather Smith was not only unjustifiably dismissed by her employer (due to a failure to comply with the contracting requirements of the Employment Relations Act), but the employer’s failure to treat her in good faith or to comply with her employment agreement gave her several grounds for compensation for the appalling way she was treated.


The Government intended to allow the reckless dismissal of workers without reasons and without giving reasons. What the Court has found is that the Good Faith requirements prevail and while an employer still may not have to have reasons, where they do, and where they are considering dismissing someone – they will need to tell them.”

“Heather’s employers relied on the law to completely indemnify them from any standards of decent employment practice. They have been found to not only have breached good faith requirements but even the terms of the employment agreement they entered into her with.”

The government has avoided taking any position in Question Time on whether good faith applies during a trial period. But now they'll have to. This is unlikely to be what they expected, and no doubt employers will be demanding they legislate immediately to allow completely arbitrary treatment.

Meanwhile, hopefully Heather's employer will be taken to the cleaners over this. They're scumbags, and they deserve to be punished for it.