Lax paperwork costs firm nearly $6000

A Queenstown security company must pay a former worker nearly $6000 for failing to give her proper employment paperwork.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) decision says Kawarau Security Services Ltd employed the woman as a security guard in January last year, but stopped giving her shifts a month later without explanation.

ERA member Helen Doyle said the woman’s requests for an employment agreement and her wage and time records were not responded to, both before and after she was given her last shift on February 12.

She was removed from the company’s online messaging group the following month, and got no response to emails she wrote to the company’s owner and sole director, Jack Matiaha-Simon, asking if she had been "laid off".

When the woman went to the Citizens Advice Bureau and government agency Employment New Zealand for help, Matiaha-Simon did not respond to either organisation’s phone calls or emails.

The woman claimed she was unjustifiably dismissed, and disadvantaged by the company’s failure to give her a proper employment agreement and wage and time records.

In her decision, Ms Doyle said the arrangement between the woman and Matiaha-Simon had, "in reality", features of a casual employment relationship.

The woman had told Matiaha-Simon when she was unavailable for work rather than asking for leave, and there were only two weeks in February when there was a "regularity or pattern of work offered and accepted".

There was no "mutual expectation" of continued employment after February 12, which meant the ending of the woman’s employment did not amount to a dismissal.

The issues raised by the applicant were better treated as breaches of the Employment Relations Act, Ms Doyle said.

She was not given an employment agreement before starting work for the company, and when she was eventually given one, it did not state her name, wage rate or hours of work.

There was a "degree of deliberateness" by Matiaha-Simon in failing to respond to the woman’s many requests for the employment documents she was legally entitled to.

For those breaches, Ms Doyle ordered Kawarau Security Services to pay a $4000 penalty, of which $3500 was payable to the applicant, as well as paying her $2462.56 for costs and holiday pay owed.

Matiaha-Simon did not respond to the ERA’s attempts to contact him or take part in its investigation.