Care needed when employee resigns through an agent

Cases

Care needed when employee resigns through an agent

An employer has been held to have unlawfully accepted an employee’s resignation because the applicant’s wife had no authority to give the resignation.

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An employer has been held to have unlawfully accepted an employee’s resignation because the applicant’s wife had no authority to give the resignation.

The applicant was assaulted while taking a train home from a work function. A number of days later, while the applicant was in hospital, the applicant’s wife rang the employer. There was conflicting evidence as to what the applicant’s wife said to the employer, but the employer proceeded to act on the basis that the applicant’s wife had tendered the applicant’s resignation.

The matter turned upon whether the applicant’s wife had acted with the applicant’s authority when purportedly resigning his employment.

Patch JR of the federal Industrial Relations Court held that the applicant’s wife did not have the applicant’s authority for the following four reasons:

  • the employee had been happy to have the job after a long period of unemployment;
  • the applicant subsequently denied to the employer that his wife had been authorised to act for him in this matter;
  • at least one medical certificate had been given to the employer covering the initial period of injury thereby indicating a desire on the part of the applicant to preserve his position; and,
  • the applicant had, when he spoke to the employer some 2 weeks after the accident, expressed surprise to hear that he had resigned.

For these reasons, Patch JR held that the applicant had not resigned and subsequently ordered the employer to pay the applicant six months pay as compensation (Mobbs v Portseal Pty Ltd (960349)).

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