Businessman Paul Davys, best known for his offer to buy the Warriors, has been ordered to pay his former nanny $15,500 for sacking her in a text message.
The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) found that Kelly Randall was Davys' employee, not a contractor as he claimed, and that she was unjustifiably dismissed.
Randall got the job after spotting an ad on Trade Me for a nanny/housekeeper for "a busy businessman".
Duties included looking after a dog, housekeeping and some cooking or breakfast preparation. She was paid $625 for a 25-hour working week and provided with a credit card for work-related approved expenses, a mobile phone and use of a
car during work hours.
Davys, who is a director of daycare franchise ChoiceKids, told the ERA he had not wanted to incur the obligations imposed by an employment relationship and had "firmly stated" in their interview that it was to be a contract position.
Randall did not provide her IRD information to Davys and payment was made
weekly into her bank account in the name of ChoiceKids. She said she had assumed Davys was paying her PAYE contributions.
"She said she had not queried the non-provision of an employment agreement as she
had expected all the requisite employment documentation and arrangements to be provided," the ERA's decision says.
In March this year she contacted ChoiceKids HR manager Peter Brown - a former Kiwis international rugby league player - to request a payslip so she could confirm her income to the bank in relation to a loan she was applying for.
"Mr Brown told her that she was being paid in cash and she did not receive payslips," something Randall was shocked by, the decision says.
Before she could raise the matter with Davys, Randall's son was taken into hospital to undergo surgery, she told the ERA.
She took two days off work during which she kept in touch with Davys and notified him of the reason for her absence.
However, she found that her pay did not come through and emailed Davy to ask why.
In response she received a text message from Davys which read: "Kelly, time to
move on. I'm giving you two weeks' notice to find another job."
Davys said he had been concerned about Randall's standard of work - something he had spoken to her about. However, there had been no formal performance management steps undertaken.
ERA member Eleanor Robinson found it "surprising" that, despite Davys being an experienced businessman, he had not provided Randall with documentation pertaining to the real nature of the employment relationship.
"I find this especially surprising given his firm statement during the investigation
meeting that he did not want to be encumbered with the obligations of an employment relationship."
Robinson found no evidence that Randall was in business on her own account, concluding that she was an employee.
Davys' text dismissal fell "far short" of a justified dismissal, she said, ordering him to pay Randall $6875 in lost wages and $300 holiday pay, gross.
The ERA further determined that Randall was entitled to compensation for humiliation and distress due to the "abrupt manner" in which her employment was terminated.
"However I take into consideration the fact that Ms Randall, whilst not expecting to be dismissed, was aware that her relationship with Mr Davys was variable with him frequently criticising her work and her evidence was that: 'he often threaten my job'," the decision says.
"In that respect I consider that the termination of her employment was not completely a shock."
Davys was ordered to pay $8000 compensation.
A copy of the determination ERA's determination will be provided to the Inland Revenue Department.
He has been approached for comment.