Chocolate maker ordered to pay

By Mike Dinsdale

A Kerikeri boutique chocolate maker has been ordered to pay a former worker 90 days of pay in lieu of written notice after she was dismissed due to medical incapacity.

But the company was successful in having the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) rule out the worker's claim that she was unjustifiably disadvantaged in her employment.

Anne Carney was dismissed by Makana Northland on November 26, 2011, on the grounds of medical incapacity after she had been off work for months because of carpel tunnel syndrome.

Ms Carney took a case to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) claiming she was not provided with the contracted 90-day notice period and did not receive her notice period pay.

She also claimed that Makana's interactions with ACC after she lodged a claim for the carpel tunnel syndrome constituted a disadvantage in employment.

Makana claimed that Ms Carney was provided with notice, but denied she was entitled to payment of notice on the basis that she could not have worked at any time during the period of her notice because of her condition.

The company also claimed that its contact with ACC did not disadvantage Ms Carney in her employment and that she did not raise her personal grievance of unjustifiable disadvantage within the 90-day statutory period specified in the Employment Relations Act 2000.

In a decision released this week ERA member Eleanor Robinson found that Ms Carney was entitled to payment of the notice period - which should have been 90 days in writing - and ordered Makana to pay her a sum equal to 90 days' wages in lieu of the written notice.

Ms Robinson left it up to both parties to resolve how much this would be, but gave leave to return to the ERA for a ruling if they could not do so.

The ERA also ruled that Ms Carney did not raise her personal grievance in relation to justified disadvantage within the statutory time period.

Ms Robinson reserved a decision on costs, but said given that both sides had been successful, costs should be moderate.

However, in the event that costs are sought, the parties are encouraged to resolve that between them.

- Northern Advocate

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