A company that refused a worker bereavement leave to attend his brother's funeral has been ordered to pay $1000 to the employee.

New Zealand Steel Ltd told Awa Minhinnick he couldn't take three days bereavement leave to attend the funeral of his whangai brother (foster brother) because the company didn't recognise the siblings' relationship.

Arnold Kaihau had lived with Minhinnick's parents his whole life and was raised by the family as a brother and son. They were loosely related by blood.

When Kaihau died in January, Minhinnick asked his employer for three days of bereavement leave to go to his funeral.


New Zealand Steel sought legal advice about the definition of "brother" under the Holidays Act and determined the relationship between Minhinnick and Kaihau did not meet the threshold.

Minhinnick was told he could take one day as bereavement leave, but he would have to take two additional days as annual leave.

The Employment Relations Authority found a fair and reasonable employer should have approved the bereavement leave application.

The authority ordered New Zealand Steel to reinstate the annual leave days and compensate Minhinnick $1000.

Read the full decision here: