Unfair claims set precedent

An Australian industrial relations expert says a NZ case could set a precedent in disgruntled employee claims

Unfair claims set precedent
Unfair claims set precedent

By Amie Hickland | October 22, 2013

An Australian industrial relations expert says a New Zealand case where a bus driver has been ordered to pay his former employer after an employment dispute could set a precedent for similar cases.

A bus driver in Auckland has been ordered to pay his former employer $3000 after failing to prove he was unjustifiably dismissed, according to the New Zealand Herald website.

Australian Public Transport Industrial Association National Industrial Relations Manager Ian Macdonald says the case could be used as a precedent to combat the amount of unfair claims in the industry.

"One of the things that APTIA has regularly advocated to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) is to seek a way to reduce the number of ambit unfair dismissal claims simply commenced by disgruntled employees to chase ‘go away money’ at a FWC conciliation," he says.

"This decision is the first I have heard about in which costs were awarded in favour of a respondent employer who was put to an unnecessary defence of an ambit claim.

"Currently the Fair Work Commission is reluctant to order costs against an applicant but it may be time for them - the FWC - to consider this precedent from across the ditch."

The order was made by the New Zealand Employment Relations Authority, and the driver is to give the money to Transportation Auckland Corporation Limited (TACL) for costs.

A change in roster to one of the driver’s regular routes had been made, which meant the driver missed his shift and his employment was ceased on the grounds of abandonment.

The employee had to pay back his former employer TACL for the costs incurred in the hearing thereby setting the precedent.

The ERC found in favour of TACL as the company had consulted on the changes.

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