A caregiver who habitually worked antisocial hours including working through the night for $50 cash, has been awarded $30,000 after being forced out of her job.

Lynette Cooper worked for Wisecare, a company that provides care in the community for people with various disabilities, in Auckland for 10 months in 2014 before she informed her employer she "felt used" and would be leaving the job.

She took a claim of unjustified dismissal to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), which found in her favour.

Cooper worked regular anti-social hours including night-shifts where she was paid $50 in cash for a "sleepover" shift.


Her employer told her "I don't pay people to sleep" and refused to pay minimum wage for the hours she worked during the night.

When Cooper provided information from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment on the legal position for paying staff to work overnight Wisecare changed its position. The company began paying her to work overnight, but required her to be awake throughout the entire shift.

This meant Cooper could no longer work back-to-back shifts and cut her income by 50 per cent.

Wisecare also announced it would begin clawing back the $50 cash paid for all the sleepover shifts Cooper had worked prior to the pay change.

Cooper decided she could no longer work for Wisecare because it "consistently ignored her legal rights".

Member of the Authority James Crichton found in Cooper's favour and said it was clear she had no choice but to reject the employment after she struggled to be paid adequately for her work.

"It is difficult to think of a clearer breach of the employer's various duties in the employment," Crichton said.

Crichton awarded Cooper $22,500 in wage arrears and holiday pay as well as $7,500 compensation.


Read the full decision here: