Awarded $8000 plus lost income

A Southland man has been awarded five months' lost income and $8000 compensation after the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) found he was unjustifiably dismissed in May last year.

Murray McGrannachan started work at the CRT store in Winton in 2001 and was promoted to branch manager in 2004. In 2010, his role was restructured and he became technical field officer for the Winton area. CRT and Farmlands merged at the beginning of last year.

In her decision released last month, authority member Helen Doyle found CRT and Farmlands were concerned about Mr McGrannachan's sales performance and supervisors had spoken to him about it on several occasions from late 2012. He was told in February last year he was expected to visit up to 10 farmers daily and sell $1 million worth of products annually.

During the meetings, Mr McGrannachan said he did not enjoy being a field officer and had a fear of making cold calls.

He was also spoken to about the number of visits he made during business hours to his home and to the stables where his wife worked. That information was extracted from the GPS system in his work vehicle.

Ms Doyle found Mr McGrannachan contributed partly to the dismissal and reduced her initial judgement on lost wages and compensation by 20%. But she said he was given no clear formal warning during disciplinary meetings that his employment might be at risk if he did not achieve measurable improvements within a particular time frame.

She said the investigation into his performance, and the outcome, breached his employment agreement and alternatives to dismissal such as moving him to another position were not considered.

''Objectively assessed, the investigation and decision-making process was not what a fair and reasonable employer could have done in all the circumstances. A fair and reasonable employer could have given Mr McGrannachan a written warning or a final written warning.''

Mr McGrannachan wanted his job back, but Ms Doyle said she did not consider that practical or reasonable for several reasons, including Mr McGrannachan's acknowledged fear of making cold calls, because he did not seek reinstatement until September last year by which time the role had been advertised and filled, and because of the company's view that his ability to perform the job to a suitable standard was unlikely.

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