An insulation company has no authority to demand wages from a grieving worker who failed to give two weeks' notice he was leaving the company because of the sudden death of his father, the Employment Relations Authority says.
Warm Kiwi International also sought wages paid to Alan Dowd for hours he worked away from approved sites, the authority said in a recently released decision.
Mr Dowd started working for the Auckland company as a sales representative on April 9. Part of the role was to visit construction sites.
The following day his father suffered a heart attack and died three days later. The funeral took place on April 17.
The company's general manager James Wang was supportive of Mr Dowd and after the funeral, they discussed him returning to work the following week, the authority said.
In the days following his return, Mr Dowd would spend some of his time working at his mother's place.
However, shortly afterwards he was called into Mr Wang's office who made it clear that Mr Dowd was only to work at the office or the construction sites, the authority said.
Mr Dowd said he would visit his mother's house were because he was not feeling well and he was trying to cope with his new position following his father's recent death.
On Monday May 19, Mr Dowd resigned from his employment with immediate effect.
"Mr Dowd says he was not well and was grieving the sudden death of his father. Mr Dowd felt unable to continue working," the authority said.
The company sought wages it had paid to Mr Dowd for work not done on Good Friday, April 18; and between 2 and 2-1/2 on three other days where he worked at his mother's house.
Authority member Anna Fitzgibbon said Mr Dowd was entitled to payment for Good Friday as it was a statutory holiday.
Mr Dowd was also entitled to be paid for work done on the other three days despite that the work was not completed at the office or construction sites.
Warm Kiwi also sought payment of $1320 from Mr Dowd - the equivalent of two weeks' wages. It said Mr Dowd left work immediately without giving his two week notice.
However, Ms Fitzgibbon said there was no evidence of loss suffered by Warm Kiwi or of any expenses incurred by it as a result of Mr Dowd's actions in resigning without providing the required notice.
"In my view, Warm Kiwi is unable to recover two weeks wages from Mr Dowd under the employment agreement. The forfeiture provision is not enforceable in the circumstances."
Mr Dowd could not be reached for comment.