Napier cafe owner docked worker's pay for breaks she was never allowed to take
A Napier cafe owner has been ordered to pay a worker $12,000 after he docked her wages for breaks she never had time to take.
The dispute started after Natalie Cornelius began working in October 2014 at a Napier cafe owned by a firm called HPG Private, the Employment Relations Authority said in a decision published on Tuesday.
The firm was mainly owned by Kamaljit Singh, while Satish Panjeta was also named in the decision as a third respondent.
At the ERA investigation meeting in Napier on May 26, Cornelius said she wrote to Singh to complain she was being docked 30 minutes' pay each day for breaks she was never allowed to take.
She received no response, so she tried to raise the issue verbally, to which Singh reacted in a "rude and belligerent" way.
She told him she would have to resign if he kept ignoring her attempts to discuss her concerns.
Singh replied: "You'll have to do what you have to do."
She resigned in October 2015, later making a claim against the firm for unjustified dismissal and the docking of 30 minutes' daily pay.
She spent 10 weeks unemployed before finding another job, had trouble finding a place to live while she searched for it, and suffered a blow to her confidence, she told the authority.
The authority found HPG had not responded to her concerns, even though she indicated that meant she would have to resign, which amounted to an unjustified dismissal.
There was no evidence that Cornelius had contributed to her dismissal, nor that the pay deductions were justified, the authority said.
HPG failed to appear before the authority, which said its representatives appeared to have "gone out of their way to stall and impede the [employment dispute] process".
It ordered HPG to pay Cornelius a total of nearly $12,000 for lost wages, inappropriate pay deductions, hurt and humiliation, plus costs.