Air NZ exec fights restraint of trade
A senior Air New Zealand employee claims he is being prevented from taking up a job with a rival airline because of onerous ''garden leave'' and non-competition provisions in his contract.
Grant Kerr resigned from his role as general manager of Air New Zealand's Eagle Air subsidiary in February.
He plans to take up a position as the head of Jetstar's New Zealand operation in August.
Kerr was put on six months' garden leave rather than being allowed to work out his notice, but will not agree to additionally being restrained from working in the airline industry for a further six months.
He has taken his case to the Employment Relations Authority, arguing that his garden leave is ''in essence a restraint of trade''.
Air New Zealand's response was that the terms of Kerr's contract were not unreasonable because of Kerr's seniority and the information he was privy to.
Commenting on the case, Wellington employment lawyer Peter Cullen said it appeared to really be a battle between two airlines using an employment issue.
It was not unusual to restrain employees from working for a competitor for six months after giving notice.
''But here you've got an unusual situation where a man has a very long notice period of six months. That's exceptional.''
However, he said Air New Zealand could also fairly argue that the non-competition period could not take effect until Kerr was no longer an employee, and he was still being paid while on garden leave.
The authority has agreed to Kerr's request to have the case moved up to the Employment Court, in the hope that he might be able to resolve the matter before he is due to take up his new appointment.
- © Fairfax NZ News