A man who was fired via text message after only seven days of work has been awarded $26,500 by the Employment Relations Authority.

Jerome Holwood was hired to help Adam Baxter in his business ventures, including dealing with security and theft issues, in May last year.

Baxter agreed to pay him $25 an hour with use of a company vehicle, yet no contract was signed.

Holwood worked for two days before taking a scheduled holiday until June 18, returning to work a further five days.


He texted Baxter on June 25 that he was too unwell to work the following day.

Baxter responded with the message: "Ok Mate. I am going to take over your position mate sorry it's not worked out the place is on its last legs and I need to get involved full time now I will sort your pay out on Wednesday."

A man was awarded $26,500 after he was fired over text message from a job he'd worked for 7 days. Photo / 123RF
A man was awarded $26,500 after he was fired over text message from a job he'd worked for 7 days. Photo / 123RF

Holwood read this message as his notice and found his final pay and holiday pay deposited in his account later that week.

On August 9 last year Holwood's representative raised a personal grievance with Baxter for unqualified dismissal.

Baxter didn't attend the Employment Relations Authority meeting despite agreeing to meet on May 16 this year. The investigation meeting proceeded without him.

Employment Relations Authority member Andrew Dallas said there was no evidence of any process being undertaken by Baxter before dismissing Holwood and agreed that Baxter never provided any information about the business ventures being on their "last legs" before the text, or how this would affect his employment.

He said Holwood's dismissal in response to a text he couldn't work was a "complete bombshell" and that he was entitled to an assessment of remedies as he was unjustifiably dismissed.

Baxter was ordered to pay $5000 in reimbursement for lost wages and a further $15,000 as compensation for hurt, humiliation and injury to feelings.


While Holwood was able to obtain work after he was fired, he said he felt humiliated having "to go crawling back to a previous employer and beg for work".

Baxter also had to pay a $2000 penalty for failing to provide an employment agreement and another $4500 contribution to costs of representation, a total of $26,500 in payment.