Kids Republic ordered to pay former employee for humiliation and lost wages

A playground business failed to properly pay a former employee when putting her on gardening leave.
TOM PULLAR-STRECKER/STUFF

A playground business failed to properly pay a former employee when putting her on gardening leave.

A playground business has been ordered to pay thousands of dollars to a former employee, after it was found to have embarrassed and humiliated her.

The business also failed to properly pay KiwiSaver contributions, holiday pay and gardening leave.

Kylie Lowe took Kids Republic Playland​ to the Employment Relations Authority, alleging the Palmerston North business breached good faith and contractual obligations.

She said her wages were not paid in full when her employment was terminated, and that KiwiSaver contributions and holiday pay were not fully paid.

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Kids Republic denied all Lowe's claims and said Lowe breached her good faith obligations by sending them abusive messages.

Those messages forced them to put her on gardening leave, they said.

In her decision, authority member Trish MacKinnon said Lowe worked for Kids Republic from March 2014, with pay reviews every year.

Things went well between them until she returned from annual leave in September 2015. She had handed in her resignation while on leave, which Kids Republic had accepted.

Lowe said matters came to a head in October 2015, when she was asked to eject a child from the school holiday programme.

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She said she asked why that had to happen, while Kids Republic said Lowe sent an abusive message to its owner Marie Smith.

Smith sent Lowe home on gardening leave, saying Lowe would be paid 40 hours for the week.

However, she was only paid 37.5 hours.

Lowe felt she had been bullied and embarrassed in front of parents when she was sent on gardening leave, and accused of treating a co-worker poorly. 

She also claimed she was unable to pick up her last payslips as she had been threatened with trespass. 

MacKinnon said there was no evidence Lowe was threatened with trespass while she was employed, but she did find she had been embarrassed and humiliated when accused of treating a co-worker poorly.

MacKinnon also found Lowe was not fully paid a bonus she was entitled to, she missed out on 2.5 hours pay from her final paycheck and holiday pay, and Kids Republic failed to make KiwiSaver contributions for the first 14 months of her employment.

The company was ordered to pay $8448.20, with $2500 going to the authority and the rest to Lowe.

 - Stuff

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