Compensation for worker dismissed without warning

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A woman whose boss dismissed her for spending too much time surfing the web has been awarded more than $13,000 for unfair dismissal.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ruled that Receivables Management had dismissed the employee, Victoria Self, without providing her with an opportunity to redeem herself.

A few weeks after commencing employment last year, Self’s boss saw her minimise her web browser as he walk past, leading to the assumption that she was looking at websites that were not relevant to her work.

Upon being questioned, Self explained that personal use of the internet during work time was common in their workplace; she claimed that a colleague had told her “we all do it”.

Self’s manager also claimed that she had spent far too long away from her desk, chatting to people from other departments. He was told by other managers that she also made personal phone calls on a regular basis.

Receivables’ HR advisor described Self as “quite loud”, adding that she often “made inappropriate remarks and jokes” in the workplace.

Self was later seen sleeping in the staffroom; the next day, she was dismissed.

Self was told to pack her things immediately, and told the ERA that she suffered an undignified and humiliating exit in front of her co-workers.

The ERA ruled that Receivables should have investigated the claims of Self’s misconduct in more depth, finding that the company’s failure to do so made the dismissal unfair.

“Ms Self was never told that her job was at risk if she carried on in the way she was going,” the decision read.

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