Another bum decision

The bundle of measures to help business people announced yesterday will be welcomed, except by constant carpers such as Labour Party MPs. But there are other things the Government could – and should – be doing.

Take a bloody hard look at the Employment Relations Tribunal for example.

Alf is no longer surprised by the daft decisions emerging from the tribunal. But he does despair at its namby-pamby view of our labour laws.

The latest – according to the Fairfax newspapers – is a ruling that when you tell your boss to “stick his job up his arse”, you are not necessarily telling him to stick his job up his arse because you are quitting.

You simply could be telling him to stick his job up his arse, and you will be happy to continue working for him.

Among other things, Alf reckons this means the Labour Department will have to hire proctologists to check out complaints about bum conditions in the workplace.

He also thinks it makes an ass of the law.

As The Press tells it –

The authority, sitting in Christchurch, where the parties now live, has ruled on an alleged dismissal in Hamilton.

Wayne and Valerie Davis managed a Hamilton shop for Toolking Plus Ltd from August 2004 to August 2007, when they were allegedly unfairly fired.

While an employer was entitled to rely on a clear resignation, care was needed when words were spoken as “part of an emotional outburst in the heat of the moment”, the authority said.

Toolking Plus director Neil Edge told the authority the Davises resigned when, in a heated exchange prompted by Edge raising problems with their management, Wayne Davis told him to “stick his job up his arse” and Valerie Davis said she would write a letter of resignation.

The couple denied Edge’s account, although the authority found “in all probability” Wayne Davis had made the remark.

There are further details in the report about how the couple had returned from the funeral of their 16-year-old grandchild in Westport and a period of leave in August 2007, and how Edge had criticised their running of the shop, and so on.

More critically, we learn that the authority decided Edge should have realised the Davises had not intended to resign immediately or to vacate their flat above the shop straight away. Such an employer would have approached the couple the next day to clarify their intentions.

It awarded Wayne Davis $8450 for lost earnings and $6000 compensation for distress, but reduced the award by 30 per cent to $10,115 because of Davis’s remark and his failure to talk to Edge about the exchange.

Valerie Davis was awarded $2739 for lost earnings and $6000 for distress.

The authority ruled Toolking must pay the Davises 10 per cent of the proceeds of the sale of the shop, as Edge had earlier agreed to do.

Alf is prepared to accept emotions were high when the boss and his workers had their contretemps. But he also thinks that when you tell the boss to stick his job up his arse, you should mean it. You should not be able to take a case to the tribunal to say you didn’t mean it and may I have some compensation, please.

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