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Current as of 26/12/14 07:40PM NZST

Telco worker sacked for faking sick leave wins appeal

By Mohamed Hassan

A former Telecom employee says he was unfairly dismissed after taking a holiday to Fiji. Photo / Greg Bowker
A former Telecom employee says he was unfairly dismissed after taking a holiday to Fiji. Photo / Greg Bowker

A Telecom worker sacked after accused of faking sick leave while holidaying in Fiji has won an appeal at the Employment Court for being unfairly dismissed.

Madhukar Shyam Narayan was laid off from his job as a broadband helpdesk specialist in 2012 after missing three days of work and producing a questionable Fijian medical certificate.

Mr Narayan was on annual leave in Fiji during the Christmas period and was required to return to work on December 27.

He had originally applied for leave to return on January 3 but was declined.

On December 27, he emailed Telecom saying he seemed "to have caught a bad virus" and wouldn't be in to work. He didn't mention that he was still in Fiji.

On December 29 he emailed again, advising he was still sick and was seeking a second medical opinion. That night he visited a doctor at a Suva hospital.

On his return, he produced a medical certificate, which his manager Ricky Henry suspected was falsified.

After a lengthy disciplinary process, Mr Narayan's employment was terminated in March.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ruled in Telecom's favour last year, and said the company had "conducted fair and reasonable investigation before dismissing Mr Narayan", and that he "was justifiably dismissed".

Mr Narayan was ordered by the ERA to pay Telecom $4000.

He appealed against the decision with the Employment Court, and said Mr Henry had threatened him with violence and dismissed him on racial grounds .

He also sought compensation and lost wages.

Last week, the court overruled the ERA decision, saying that while Mr Narayan was given a fair disciplinary process, the decision to dismiss him was "not justifiable" and Telecom had taken "an inappropriately suspicious stance in the matter from the outset".

The court ruled that Mr Narayan should receive a month's wages and $7000 in compensation.

However, the court ruled there was not enough evidence to suggest Mr Henry's motives were as Mr Narayan suggested or that threats were made against him.

Telecom Human Resources general manager Danielle George said today that Telecom stood by its actions but would accept the judge's decision.

"This has been a long and difficult process for us and for Mr Narayan, and we do not wish to stretch it out any further," Ms George said.

"We were pleased to see that the judge was comfortable with Telecom's processes for handling this case."

Attempts to reach Mr Narayan for comment were unsuccessful.

- APNZ

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