Hero cop awarded $20k after new roster forced her out of job

By Kieran Campbell

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A female police officer who was awarded a bravery medal has won almost $20,000 in compensation after being forced to quit because her new roster was "not family friendly".

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA), in a decision published today, found Anneke Teding van Berkhout was constructively dismissed in July 2011 because she felt she had no option but to resign due to changes to her roster pattern.

She joined New Zealand Police in 1988 and worked mostly in the Christchurch Criminal Investigation Branch, and was awarded a gold medal for bravery in 1993.

Ms Teding van Berkhout gave birth to her first child in 2000, and returned to work in May 2001. About January 2002 she applied, and was approved, to work reduced hours.

After giving birth to her second child, Ms Teding van Berkhout was transferred to the Communications Centre, and from June 2004 to 2010 she worked reduced hours as a call-taker and dispatcher.

However, in May 2010 a structure change in the police communications centres meant Ms Teding van Berkhout was asked to work a new roster so she would be in line with other staff.

She argued that the new hours were "not family friendly" because they conflicted with hours worked by her husband, Davitt, who was also a police officer.

Negotiations about her new rosters failed, and Ms Teding van Berkhout said she felt she had no option but to sign the new agreement because New Zealand Police had refused to consider her annual leave application until she did so.

ERA member David Appleton ruled that Ms Teding van Berkhout was "put ... in a position where she either had to work full time hours or work a roster which caused her significant problems with managing her family life".

"She chose the latter option, which led directly to her resigning because of those resultant problems," Mr Appleton said.

He ruled that because Ms Teding van Berkhout's bosses failed to resolve the problem after it was raised, her constructive dismissal was unjustified.

Ms Teding was awarded $9,287.20 for three months of lost wages and $10,000 for "humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to her feelings".

- APNZ

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