A Palmerston North tradesman who was told to "harden up" after calling in sick, eventually losing his job, has been awarded a $20,000 payout.

The impact on roofer Jack Lane was so severe that he ended up moving towns to start afresh, but he has successfully won his grievance against AB Roofing Ltd - which refused to engage in an Employment Relations Authority hearing.

Lane had texted his employer on April 25, 2017 to say that he was ill and wouldn't be at work.

The response was "harden up or no more job".

Roofer Jack Lane won a $20k payout after the Employment Relations Authority hearing. Photo / 123RF
Roofer Jack Lane won a $20k payout after the Employment Relations Authority hearing. Photo / 123RF

Lane questioned the possibility of losing his job to which he received the "uncharitable" response of "don't bother turning up. Over you wasting my time".

Lane interpreted that text message as a dismissal.

The ERA decision says that even if that was not the case he did not return to work and his absence was not queried by the employer as a possible subsequent abandonment argument would require and as it was bound to do in any event.

He then questioned his boss about final pay four days later and was told by his boss "u can f..k rite off mate".

He didn't receive any final wages or holiday pay that was owed.

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The authority ruled that Lane was unjustifiably dismissed.

He was able to get a new job about five weeks later, but he told the hearing he felt confused at being dismissed and, more importantly, it was a destruction of trust.


"This affected his dealings with others and forced a decision to relocate in order to start anew. He spoke of falling into a dark hole especially as the dismissal brought an end to the first time things were going right," the authority decision says.

Lane was awarded $20,037.06.

The figure included $3300 in unpaid wages, $12,000 compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings while the remainder included outstanding holiday pay and court costs.

The authority ordered AB Roofing to make the payout by October 30.