12 Dec 2015

Woman sacked for personal use of the internet

6:30 am on 12 December 2015

A woman who was sacked for spending too much time surfing the internet and chatting with co-workers has been awarded more than $13,000 for unfair dismissal.

Online shopping.

Photo: Flickr / Keith Williamson

The Employment Relations Authority ruled debt recovery company Receivables Management did not give Victoria Self a chance to curb her behaviour.

A few weeks after Ms Self was hired in July last year, her boss Ross Fleming saw her quickly minimise what was on her computer screen when he walked past. He assumed she was looking at an inappropriate website.

Her excuse was personal use of the internet during work time was commonplace in the office.

She said a co-worker had told her "we all do it".

Mr Fleming said she spent too long away from her desk talking with people in other departments.

Other managers told him Ms Self was using TradeMe during work time, and often made personal phone calls, he said.

The company's human resources adviser said she thought Ms Self was "quite loud and made inappropriate remarks and jokes".

A short time later she was seen asleep in the staffroom, and was dismissed the next day.

Ms Self said she was told to pack her things immediately. She claimed she suffered an undignified and humiliating exit in front of her co-workers.

The authority found the company should have investigated further, and hence her dismissal was unfair.

"Ms Self was never told that her job was at risk if she carried on in the way she was going," it said.

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