A Whangarei woman whose employment was terminated because the business was closing down has been awarded more than $6000 for humiliation and other entitlements.
The Employment Relations Authority has ruled that Pamela Jo Saroz was unjustifiably dismissed by Flower Feva which was situated in the Palmers Garden Centre in Whangarei. She started work in June 2009 as the florist manager but was not provided with a written employment agreement. Both parties agreed that Ms Saroz would receive $16.50 per hour for 42.5 hours a week to be paid fortnightly. She did not get overtime but for hours worked in excess of 42.5 per week, she could have time off in lieu.
In May 2013, company director Damian Luiten handed her a memorandum that recorded a decline in Flower Feva's financial position and set out options to save money. On May 19, 2014, Mr Luiten called Ms Saroz to a meeting and announced he was closing down the business before handing her a termination letter which advised she was being made redundant because Flower Feva was closing.
She was paid two weeks' pay in lieu of notice.
Mr Luiten told the authority her dismissal was justified as it must have been obvious to her the business was not doing well in the 12 months before it closed.
Ms Saroz claimed unpaid sick leave, unpaid time off in lieu, KiwiSaver contributions on all amounts awarded to her, outstanding public holiday entitlements, annual holiday pay arrears, interest and costs. She also wanted the authority to declare her redundancy dismissal was unjustified.
Ms Saroz conceded during the authority's investigation that her redundancy dismissal was substantively justified because the company shut down due to financial issues.
Authority member Rachel Larmer said this was a realistic concession to make because when Ms Saroz's employment was terminated, Flower Feva had $74,000 in rent arrears, it owed its shareholders $70,000, and it had $23 in the bank.
Although there was a good reason for making her redundant, Ms Larmer ruled circumstances were such that Flower Feva still could and should have properly consulted with her before terminating her job. Ms Saroz was awarded $6000 for humiliation, loss of dignity, and injury to feelings and other entitlements she claimed.