Employee wins compensation after role restructure leads to dismissal

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A worker who was fired after his job was restructured into a different role has won compensation.

Murray McGrannachan was awarded five months’ lost income and $8,000 in compensation after the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) found that he had been unjustifiably dismissed last May.

McGrannachan was working as a branch manager at CRT in Winton in 2010 when his role was restructured and he became a technical field officer, a role in which he was expected to make 10 sales calls to farmers each day and sell $1 million worth of products each year.

CRT merged with Farmlands at the start of last year and the company told the authority that McGrannachan’s dismissal was justified for poor performance.

It said that he had been clearly told that the company wasn’t happy with his performance and he needed to improve. He was also given training.

In the ERA decision, authority member Helen Doyle found that the company had spoken to McGrannachan about his performance several times since late 2012.

There was also concern about the number of times he went home during work hours, or to his wife’s work – information which came from the GPS system in his work vehicle.

During the meetings about his performance, McGrannachan said his lack of confidence was hindering his ability to make cold calls.

Doyle found that McGrannachan’s actions had contributed to his dismissal, but she was not satisfied that he was given a clear formal warning during the disciplinary meetings that his employment would be in jeopardy if he did not improve.

Doyle said that the investigation into his performance, and the result, breached his employment agreement and alternatives such as moving him into a different position had not been considered.

“Objectively assessed, the investigation and decision making process was not what a fair and reasonable employer could have done in all the circumstances. A fair and reasonable employer could have given Mr
McGrannachan a written warning or a final written warning,” she said in her decision.

McGrannachan wanted his job back, but Doyle found that reinstatement wasn’t a reasonable measure as he would be unlikely to be able to perform the job to the standard required by the company. 

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