A Rotorua worker who says his employer was rude to him has been awarded $29,900 in unpaid wages, and penalties.

Shaun Isaac worked intermittently for Adventure Playground Rotorua Ltd between 2013 and 2017.

The tourism business has offered horse riding, quad bike riding, skeet shooting and riding side-by-side all-terrain buggies in Rotorua since mid-2012, and is based on State Highway 5, Ngongotahā.

A new judgement released by James Crichton, chief of the Employment Relations Authority, said Adventure Playground's lack of robust record-keeping made it "incredibly difficult for an outside third party (such as an authority member) to reach conclusions which were sympathetic to his [the managing director's] position".

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The business breached the law by destroying some timesheets and Crichton said it "failed absolutely to maintain proper wage and time records".

"It cannot be that small business owners do not have access to information which would assist them to come to grips with their obligations."

He said the company was its "own worst enemy".

Adventure Playground Rotorua. Photo / Stephen Parker
Adventure Playground Rotorua. Photo / Stephen Parker

Isaac constructed his own wage and time records, which Crichton chose to rely on.

Crichton also concluded that Isaac had been paid holiday pay without his request or knowledge when he was not away on holiday.

However, he rejected Isaac's claim that he was unjustifiably dismissed.

The business said there were "occasional difficulties with Mr Isaac driving while intoxicated" but it was supportive of him during these lapses.

The business said it also had to regularly speak to Isaac "about his scruffy presentation and smoking on the job" but Isaac denied this.

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Isaac said he tried to resign on two occasions because his employer, managing director Steve Roberts, "treated him in an off-hand and dismissive fashion and was frequently rude to him" but Roberts said he did not behave like this.

Isaac said he was "treated like s***".

Adventure Playground said Isaac's driving caused $20,000 in damage to a Land Rover but Crichton said it was unclear whether this was the case, or if a mechanical fault was the cause.

The business also alleged Isaac stole cash from the till, and deliberately failed to properly install a security camera to cover this up, but Crichton said there was no evidence to this claim.

The case hearing was set down for December 2018, but Adventure Playground was not ready for its investigation meeting and did not file its submissions until February 15 this year, after reminders from the authority.

Crichton said Isaac suffered emotionally from the deferral and incurred extra legal costs.

Adventure Playground Rotorua Ltd was ordered to pay $29,897.74 made up of $26,647.74 in wages and $3250 to cover Isaac's costs for the delayed hearing.

The total holiday pay owed to Isaac is yet to be finalised.

Adventure Playground won the Attractions Business Award at the 2017 Rotorua Business Awards.