Long hours row heard by court
Nelson firm Titan Slicer has been ordered to pay nearly $20,000 to an employee who worked long hours but was not given time off in lieu.
Engineer Tony Jackson took his case to the Employment Relations Authority, which has ruled he should be paid $19,976 for time off in lieu, or "toil", and $4630 in holiday pay.
Mr Jackson, represented by advocate Shayne Boyce, sought payment for 756 hours of toil which, he said, he accrued but was prevented from taking before his resignation. He also claimed untaken annual leave which he claimed was unlawfully deducted from his final pay.
The company, represented by advocate Kay Chapman, denied that Mr Jackson had accumulated any toil and asserted that even if he had there was no agreement that toil would be paid out at the end of his employment.
Mr Jackson began work in August 2010 for Titan Slicer, which designs and manufactures world-leading food slicers.
He and the managing director Sean Marr had worked together previously and he knew at the time of his recruitment that the role would require him to work many long hours over the weekly base hours, ERA member David Appleton noted in his determination.
Mr Jackson maintained he discussed and agreed with Mr Marr a time off in lieu arrangement in recognition of the hours that he would have to work over his weekly base hours.
Mr Jackson said he did not have the time or opportunity to take accumulated toil because of the hours he had to put in.
By March last year he felt burnt out, stressed and was not sleeping well.
He told Mr Marr he was thinking about resigning and asked how and when his toil hours would be paid. Mr Marr told him they did not pay out lieu time. Mr Jackson's evidence was "this came as a complete showstopper for me".
Mr Jackson decided not to work any additional hours or be on call, and resigned in April last year.
Mr Appleton said there was no doubt from an email sent by Mr Marr in May 2010 that the company recognised toil as a means of addressing the working of long hours.
"I accept Mr Jackson's evidence that he would not have accepted the role, knowing what long hours he would be working, without an agreement that he would be to earn toil.
"In short, I believe that a valid and binding agreement was reached between Mr Marr and Mr Jackson resulting in Mr Jackson being entitled contractually to accrue toil," said Mr Appleton.
However, he did not agree with Mr Jackson's claim that the failure to pay him amounted to a personal grievance and he found that the company did not breach its duty of good faith to him.
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