Worker fired for six-week holiday awarded $20k

STEVE HOPKINS
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2012

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A worker fired after taking six weeks leave with only two days notice of when he would be off has been awarded almost $20,000.

Hung Sik Cha asked the Employment Relations Authority to find he had been unjustifiably dismissed from his job as a spray painter and panelbeater at, A One Today Motors Limited, and sought six months pay, compensation, and payment for four days his employer made him take as leave.

Cha also told the authority he was forced to sign an employment agreement which reduced his pay and hours and sought the monetary difference between the two contracts.

Cha's boss, Seung Chul Park said he had a number of ''good reasons'' for dismissing Cha, including that he had taken six weeks leave without his approval and hadn't returned to work on 22 July 2011, which amounted to ''abandonment of employment''.

Park acknowledged Cha had told him two months before he went on leave that he intended to do so, but said he only confirmed the exact dates, from 20 June 2011 to 31 July, two days before.

Cha had only been entitled to two weeks leave, as of 31 July of that year, so most of the time off would be unpaid, a recent authority decision notes.  

The authority found Park had not objected to Cha's leave. He had written to Cha on 17 June telling him the leave would be unpaid, but had not ''clearly stated'' he couldn't take it.

He had also not cited it as a reason for firing him in his dismissal letter of 26 July. 

The authority also found Cha had not abandoned his job by not returning to work, as he was on leave until 31 July. 

Park said he'd unsuccessfully tried to reach Cha on the phone to get him to return from leave early and had also passed on a message to his employee's wife.

Park further claimed that Cha didn't work hard enough, talked to visitors too much during working hours, had given wrong quotations to customers, changed repair processes without permission, had ordered parts from suppliers for his own use and his workmanship had been poor.  

He told the authority he had given Cha verbal warnings ''too often to count''.

Cha denied all of those claims. 

The authority found Cha was not forced to sign a new contract reducing his pay and hours, but found he was unjustifiably dismissed. 

It awarded him three months wages totalling $12,421.50, four days pay for the days he was made to take as leave - $764.40 - and $5000 compensation.

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