Red Alert

Archive for the ‘personal grievance’ Category

Awarded more than $8000 when she was sacked for bad breath

Posted by on August 27th, 2012

I promised to provide an update on real-life struggles and challenges the NZ workforce was experiencing on the ground under present conditions. Did you hear about the Auckland beautician who refused to work on clients and had complaints about her bad breath? What appears to be trivial on the surface was actually quite substantial when the Employment Relations Authority dug into the case. Her employer made suggestions to the beautician that she should perhaps chew mints or receive some assistance from a dentist.

Later she was told by her employer, “If you don’t attend these clients, don’t come back tomorrow”. She managed her workload and left according to her planned departure time, and when she returned the next day, she felt she may have been fired, then asked for a formal letter of termination, and got it.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) said that the employer had other options available to him, such as he could have suspended the employee on pay while an investigation was carried out, or conduct a formal meeting into the incident.

In any case the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) awarded her $8022.45 in wages and compensation.

NB: Just pointing  to this case to show how important it is for employers to treat their staff with respect.

EMA and the grievance “gravy train”

Posted by on June 28th, 2011

News out that Alasdair Thompson is clinging to his job.

EMA board chairman Graham Mountfort says “we are following a sound and thorough process as a responsible employer must.”

But it seems there’s one rule for the bosses’ organisation and one for the rest of the workforce. The EMA, and Alasdair have consistently moaned about the cost and process of personal grievances, yet this is exactly what the EMA is going through now.

Here’s the man himself on Q and A last year, at the time the government was planning to take away both the process and substance in the sacking of  thousands of workers:

ALASDAIR Process is important. But substance is most important.

PAUL What is difficult about the process?

ALASDAIR It is a difficult process, it is a difficult process – well it is, but I’m not saying process isn’t important, it is important. But if you’ve gone around – if you’re building a home for a Jewish person and you go writing swastikas all over the walls and so on or something like that, and it’s pretty obvious that that’s a pretty bad thing to do.

PAUL Yes, on your bike.

ALASDAIR Yeah, on your bike. But you still should get the process pretty much right. But the point is if you don’t get it 100% right you’re still pinged.

PAUL You could be forced to rehire the incompetent bloke……

ALASDAIR Not only rehire, but you get pinged for $30,000. (not true by the way : average settlement is around $3,000 for most workers)

I would have thought in this instance that the substance was pretty clear. But lawyers are involved. The exit package is being argued over and I bet you it will cost the EMA a lot more than $3,000, let along $30,000.

Alasdair had this to say a year ago last year in the NZ Herald’s Mood of the Boardroom:

Employers & Manufacturers (Northern) chief executive Alasdair Thompson said many members wanted the grievance-free employment period extended to all businesses, though it was less applicable to those employing highly educated, skilled workers.

“This is not new. In the private sector the personal-grievance gravy train is something that needs continual reforming.”

I watch with interest how the EMA handles this situation. They have to follow fair process (even although they disagree with it) and I venture to suggest that one of the problems of the so-called “personal grievance gravy train” might rest with organisations like their own, where well paid executives use the system to extract as much money as they can.

Wasn’t it the National Government who extended personal grievances to all employees – including Alasdair Thompson?