Sacked worker paid after trial error

CHARLIE MITCHELL
Last updated 10:06 23/07/2014

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A Dunedin trailer manufacturer must pay nearly $9000 to a worker it fired six weeks after he began work.

Warren Murcott was employed by Loadwell Trailers for early last year, as a fabricator and welder, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) said in a decision released today.

He was employed on a trial basis, but said he was not aware of this and he received written notification about it only three days before his dismissal.

Murcott said he was "shocked" to find out he'd been sacked, the ERA said.

Because he hadn't agreed in writing to be employed on a trial basis, the authority said his employer was required to justify his dismissal "in the usual way".

Loadwell Trailers argued Murcott was a defiant employee who failed to follow instructions, which cost the company money. It also said he had anger issues, citing an incident where he angrily threw tools on the ground after making a mistake.

Murcott admitted he made some mistakes, but did not agree he had an anger problem.

The ERA said there was evidence Murcott had been informally spoken to about his behaviour, but no formal discussions had taken place.

The letter of dismissal given to Murcott cited "poor performance" as the reason for his dismissal, rather than misconduct.

ERA member Helen Doyle said this meant Loadwell Trailers was required to "identify the specific reasons for dissatisfaction, give a reasonably specific time for measurable improvement, and at the end of that time give consideration as to whether progress has been made to the extent that dismissal can be avoided".

Because this didn't happen, Murcott's dismissal was determined to be unjust.

He was initially awarded more than $13,000 in remedies, but ERA reduced this amount due to his inability to follow instructions, which it said contributed to his dismissal.

A further amount was subtracted due to his actions after his dismissal - cutting up plans he had drawn up while employed, making them unusable.

The final sum awarded to Murcott totalled $8900.

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