Napier City Council manager wins $50,000 redundancy payout

Napier City Council had a restructure last year.
MARTY SHARPE/ STUFF

Napier City Council had a restructure last year.

The former Napier City Council manager who lost his job in a restructure and was "coerced" into a replacement has won his $50,000 redundancy payout. 

Scott Estcourt was one of a number of employees who raised a personal grievance against the Napier City Council following a restructure last year.

Estcourt first heard about the changes in 2015. When they were confirmed, he raised concerns to his manager, Jon Kingsford, about the absence of an alternative equivalent position under the restructure.

He also claimed Kingsford had little idea of what he actually did when he was offered a replacement job that was of less status and responsibility. 

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In July last year Estcourt was told that, unless other opportunities for him were found, his employment would be terminated in no less than four weeks.

Estcourt, who had been with the council since 2006, said he could see no prospective role for him in the proposed structure and sought to accept redundancy from August 30.

"It is not open to the council to continue to keep a redundant employee's position open whilst it merely considers the prospect of redeployment. Any offer of redeployment must be specific, not generalised, and needs to be made before the employee is notified that they are surplus to the needs of the Council," Estcourt said in his personal grievance letter.

Kingsford said the council had not yet confirmed redeployment opportunities and he asked Estcourt to sign a statement acknowledging he was not interested in applying for any of these positions.

The council said the new position offered to Estcourt was of equal importance and value, and it matched exactly the levels of skill experience, education and autonomy.

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But the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) found the positions differed, and there was a reduction in status and responsibility.

Kingsford also showed a lack of knowledge of what Estcourt actually did, the authority said. 

The ERA concluded the alternative project offered by the council was not suitable for Estcourt, and ordered he receive the compensation sum. 

Estcourt also claimed he had been unjustifiably disadvantaged in his employment, but the ERA found no evidence of this as he preferred to resign than be redeployed. 

"It is difficult to see how someone can be disadvantaged in an employment relationship they have already decided they have no intention of continuing," the authority said. 

The ERA has ordered the Napier City Council to pay Estcourt $50,433 as redundancy compensation.

 - Stuff

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