First 90 Day Case – shot across bow to employers
The CTU determination to stick by workers unfairly dismissed under the 90 day law delivered results today after the Employment Court found young pharmacy worker Heather Smith was not only unjustifiably dismissed by her employer (due to a failure to comply with the contracting requirements of the Employment Relations Act), but the employer’s failure to treat her in good faith or to comply with her employment agreement gave her several grounds for compensation for the appalling way she was treated.
CTU President Helen Kelly said: “This law was rushed through Parliament without a proper select committee process and therefore has to some extent failed to achieve what the Government set out to do, creating a high risk for employers that have already sacked workers unfairly under the scheme. The Government intended to allow the reckless dismissal of workers without reasons and without giving reasons. What the Court has found is that the Good Faith requirements prevail and while an employer still may not have to have reasons, where they do, and where they are considering dismissing someone – they will need to tell them.”
“Heather’s employers relied on the law to completely indemnify them from any standards of decent employment practice. They have been found to not only have breached good faith requirements but even the terms of the employment agreement they entered into her with.”
“The disgraceful thing is,” said Helen Kelly, “that the policy intention of the Government is to remove from Heather and every other worker employed on a 90 day agreement the right to take a case against unfair dismissal.”
“While this decision is a real victory for Heather and justifies our decision to stick by workers like her, the Court decision still makes it clear that where employers get it right, and form and perform contracts correctly, this new law will still enable dismissals as unfair as Heather’s to go unchallenged.”
Heather Smith’s case was highlighted by the CTU and is available on YouTube at www.youtube.com/NZCTU