Misconduct outside the workplace – It’s not Hallwright

By | May 15, 2013

Generally, what your employee does outside of their working hours usually stays outside of working hours.

The exception is where your employee’s conduct impacts on your reputation as an employer or gives cause for concern about your employee’s suitability. The Employment Relations Authority recently considered such out of work conduct1 in deciding whether the dismissal of Mr Hallwright (a senior investment analyst at Forsyth Barr) was justified following his conviction of causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard for hitting another motorist with his car outside of work hours.

The Authority considered that while Mr Hallwright had the ability to perform some elements of his job, his media profile had been tarnished by his conduct and he could not continue with the public-facing aspects of his role. Also, as Mr Hallwright’s duties were carried out at a senior level, his own  reputation, integrity and behaviour were relevant to the overall perception of the way Forsyth Barr conducted its business, and therefore he had bought his employer into disrepute.

This case shows that there must be a clear link between an employee’s out-of-work conduct and their employment to justify disciplinary action. The conduct should also relate to the employee’s ability to do their job.

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Copyright, NZ LAW Limited. Editor: Adrienne Olsen. E-mail: adrienne@adroite.co.nz. Ph: 029 286 3650.

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