Police manager reinstated to job

LIAM HYSLOP
Last updated 11:39 11/12/2013

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A 23-year police veteran will get his job back after his redundancy was deemed invalid.

The Employment Relations Authority ruled the redundancy of Tasman district police business services manager Derek Coffey was incorrect. He had not been given a fair chance to be reassigned under the terms of his individual contract.

Police underwent nationwide restructuring in 2012. As a result Coffey's position was disestablished in October 2012.

He unsuccessfully applied for four new positions within the police after this and was made redundant.

He was paid $126,992.21 in severance pay but did not agree to the termination or severance, something which was required under his contract.

Police believed he was part of a collective contract and that they could fairly dismiss him.

But Coffey was not part of that contract and was still bound by a 1998 agreement which stated Coffey's agreement was required for severance.

ERA member Paul Stapp said the police could have done more to facilitate him and provide him with the skills and training needed for other positions.

"I accept that that restructuring was genuine, but not carried out properly in regard to Coffey," Stapp said.

Coffey was also found to have been unfairly dismissed as, under the Policing Act 2008, only the police commissioner can dismiss members of the police. However, Coffey was dismissed by a different superior member of the police who had no knowledge of Coffey's contract.

His superior said he had had contact with the commissioner but that the commissioner did not have any direct involvement with the dismissal, Stapp said.

"This is unfortunate, especially given Coffey's 23 years of loyal and unblemished service," Stapp said.

He ordered police to reinstate Coffey to a position not less advantageous than his previous position.

Stapp also ordered the police to pay $73,701.25 in lost wages and $15,000 in compensation.

Coffey will have to pay back the $126,992.21 he received in severance, meaning he will have to pay the police $38,290.96 for his job back.

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- Fairfax Media

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