Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Youth worker sacked for using sick leave for trip

A youth services worker who used sick leave to spend a week away was justifiably sacked. Photo / Thinkstock
A youth services worker who used sick leave to spend a week away was justifiably sacked. Photo / Thinkstock

A youth services worker who used sick leave to spend a week away with his family and posted photos of his trip on Facebook was justifiably sacked, the Employment Relations Authority has ruled.

Bruce Taiapa was working for the private Gisborne training establishment Turanga Ararau in March last year when his partner asked his boss, Sharon Maynard, for five days' unpaid leave the following week, starting March 28.

Leave applications were required by Child, Youth and Family because the couple were running a CYF house.

Ms Maynard was not willing to give a week's leave because Mr Taiapa was needed to do work no one else could cover, but she let him take the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of that week.

She then went on leave and came back the next Tuesday to be told Mr Taiapa had been off that day and the day before on sick leave.

He had called the office on Monday morning and told his manager, Winifred Ruru, that he had a damaged calf muscle and the doctor had advised he immediately take time off work.

Ms Ruru told Mr Taiapa he needed to provide a doctor's certificate.

Another worker at the organisation said he had seen Mr Taiapa on the Monday leaving town with his family.

On the Wednesday, Ms Maynard was shown a photo taken at a waka tournament in Rotorua in which Mr Taiapa had a "large female sitting on his knee", the authority said.

Ms Maynard said she became suspicious Mr Taiapa had used sick leave to attend the week-long waka competition.

Mr Taiapa saw his doctor on Monday, April 4, and was given a certificate that excused him from work from March 28 until April 7.

Mr Taiapa said how he managed his health was his business, and he believed he had done nothing wrong in travelling to Rotorua.

He said the case by Turanga Ararau was "constructed" against him and he was considering appealing against the employment authority ruling.

- APNZ

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