Two "dedicated and skilled" Wellington Free Ambulance paramedics who lost their jobs following allegations of bullying and inappropriate behaviour have been temporarily reinstated.

Hayden Austing and Nicola Gisbon-Horne claimed they had been unjustifiably dismissed from their jobs as paramedics with the Wellington Free Ambulance Service Trust.

The Employment Relations Authority said they were now seeking reinstatement to their positions ahead of a full investigation meeting which is set down for next year.

Wellington Free Ambulance have opposed reinstatement due to concerns for patient safety.


Mr Austing and Ms Gisbon-Horne were dismissed from their roles in June following allegations of bullying and inappropriate behaviour, the authority heard.

Mr Austing had been employed for 16 years and Ms Gisbon-Horne has been employed for eight years at the time they were dismissed. Both were very concerned about the loss of their jobs.

The authority heard that last October, the pair were invited to a meeting where they were told allegations had been made against them in relation to "inappropriate behaviour and/or bullying".

They were told an investigation would take place because their behaviour was at times aggressive and intimidating to other staff members; their communication with a number of staff members and management was inappropriate and not consistent with the organisation's values; they had failed to follow lawful instructions on a number of occasions; and their behaviour towards some staff members constituted bullying.

A final report into the investigation, which was carried out by a Wellington lawyer, was completed in April.

The report upheld allegations that both Mr Austing and Ms Gisbon-Horne were viewed by a number of staff as intimidating, some allegations of inappropriate communication by each of the applicants, and allegations of failing to follow instructions in regards to two particular incidents.

However, it did not uphold the allegation that their behaviour was viewed as threatening.

Following the release of the report, Mr Austing and and Ms Gisbon-Horne were contacted by Wellington Free Ambulance chief executive Diana Crossan, who requested a meeting.


When the parties met they discussed the possibility of a warning or demotion as an alternative to dismissal, however, they were both later dismissed.

Authority member Trish MacKinnon said both Mr Austing and Ms Gisbon-Horne could argue they were unjustifiably dismissed.

"I have found both applicants to have arguable cases to have been unjustifiably dismissed and arguable cases for permanent reinstatement in the event they are successful in the substantive proceedings."

Ms MacKinnon said they were both "dedicated and skilled" paramedics.

"Both have expressed their respect for senior management of Wellington Free Ambulance including its chief executive.

"They have stated their willingness to take on board the adverse perceptions of them

"I find the overall justice favours their reinstatement on an interim basis to their employment with Wellington Free Ambulance."

The pair would be required to undergo mediation to explore "sensible and workable arrangements" for their return to work, Ms MacKinnon said.

Costs were reserved.

Ms Crossan said its paramedics were extremely committed, highly qualified professionals who put patient care first.

"It is because of our belief in world class paramedic care for our patients, and the work we have done to create a positive culture where that can happen, that we have gone down this path."

She said Wellington Free Ambulance had "immediately appealed against the decision" for interim reinstatement.

"In the meantime we are complying with the authority decision, including measures to very closely manage the situation," Ms Crossan said.