Worker who claimed she was improperly denied shifts loses case

Tribunal ruled employer wasn't required to offer 'minimum amount of work'

Worker who claimed she was improperly denied shifts loses case

The Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) recently dealt with a compensation dispute after a worker said that her employer unjustly denied her shifts, thereby breaching their contract.

Meanwhile, the employer argued that it did not commit any contractual breach and that it was the worker who declined the “options” that it gave her for work.

Background of the case

The home care worker provided her services as an independent contractor to the employer.

The worker argued that the employer "improperly stopped giving her any shifts, breaching the parties’ employment contract requiring 15 days’ notice of termination." She then claimed $5,000 for lost wages between August 30 and October 5, 2022.

The employer, on the other hand, rejected the worker's position and denied breaching any agreement. It said the worker regularly "called in sick for her shifts without enough notice, failed to provide required employment information on time and had complaints made against her by clients." It also denied owing her any money.

The employer’s hesitation after the worker’s sickness

The worker started her part-time employment with the employer in February 2022 and was hired for three days a week, with 12 hours dedicated to her tasks, at a rate of $25 per hour.

In August 2022, she contracted COVID-19 and was unable to perform her duties. By the end of the month, she said that she was able to return to work, which was met by the employer’s hesitation.

A letter from the employer cited concerns regarding the worker's performance, her failure to provide hiring documentation, and requested a medical certificate confirming her fitness to resume work.

Additionally, it sent notice that her previous responsibilities had been assumed by a colleague to ensure the continuous care of her client. In response, the worker committed to furnishing the required documentation and showed her ability to get back to work.

Employer’s lack of documentary evidence on worker’s performance

The CRT noted that the employer referenced allegations of prior professional misconduct and the worker’s licensing issues but said it “did not discover this until during this CRT dispute.”

“Although it is possible to establish ‘after-acquired cause’ to justify an employee’s dismissal, the [employer] did not provide any documentary evidence in support of these allegations. So, to the extent that it argues the [worker] misled them and therefore breached the parties’ agreement, I find that was not a factor in the initial breakdown of the parties’ working relationship and is unproven in any event,” the CRT said.

Later, on 7 September 2022, the employer emailed her with alternative work options with new clients. She agreed to some, but not all, of the proposed work and said she could start on 14 September.

According to records, she “never started work for those clients, nor returned to work for the [employer] at all.”

Did the employer breach the contract?

In a subsequent letter, the worker advised the employer that “it was breaching the parties’ agreement by not providing her with work and asked [it] to remedy the breach within 15 days or the agreement would be terminated.”

The worker said the employer replied, “but did not explain what the reply was or provide a copy of the reply in evidence.”

On the other hand, the employer said “it met its obligations under the contract by offering [her] further work, which [she] declined,” but the CRT noted that the employer did not present any evidence.

The tribunal assessed the agreement between the parties, and after an examination, found there was no breach on the employer’s part.

“Although the [worker] argues the [employer] breached the parties’ agreement by failing to provide more work, there is nothing in the parties’ agreement that required the [employer] to provide the [worker] with a minimum amount of work, or any work at all,” the tribunal said.

“This means that [the employer] did not breach the parties’ agreement. Even if [it did], [the agreement between them] clearly states the [worker’s] damages would be limited to payment for services performed, nothing more. Given all of the above, the [worker] is not entitled to any damages.”

Thus, the tribunal dismissed her claims against the employer.

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