Absentee postie wins compensation battle

by |
The Employment Relations Authority has awarded compensation to a postman who was fired for missing work and receiving assistance from his brother on his rounds.

The ERA found that NZ Post unfairly dismissed Auckland postie Tyrone Underhill in April, following issues which started when he was placed on sick leave in 2011 following a rugby injury.

NZ Post gave Underhill a verbal warning after their dispute over the date of his return to work. This was followed by further warnings which occurred following a series of unexplained absences.

The company also alleged that the employee did not seek permission for having help on his run from his brother, who was also employed as a postie by NZ Post.

ERA authority member Tania Tetitaha found that the procedure taken by NZ Post in the dismissal of Underhill was flawed.

That was due to errors in the written and final warnings which did not follow the process for fairly dealing with employment misconduct.

Given those warnings were key to the decision to dismiss, that created unfairness for Underhill, Tetitaha noted.

She found that the flaws arose from errors in the written and final warnings which led to the company failing to follow the process for fairly dealing with employee misconduct.

The employer’s statement, in which it was claimed that Underhill was directed to come into work, did not match the written warning he had received, which said that he was required at work but left it up to him to take it up with his boss the following week if he did not.

Tetitaha also said in her decision that the written warnings sent to Underhill “did not state what clauses of the collective agreement were being applied.”

Tetitaha noted that as those warnings were key to the decision to dismiss the worker, the errors created unfairness for Underhill.

Underhill was awarded three months of lost wages and $2500 in compensation for hurt and humiliation. Tetitaha halved the compensation from $5000 after taking into account Underhill’s unauthorised absences, and his telling a lie about attending a tangi.


HRD Forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Name (required)
Comment (required)
By submitting, I agree to the Terms & Conditions