Overcoming work stress with a noggin

A case just settled by the Employment Relations Authority, an outfit responsible for some daft decisions on occasion, this time has Alf in two minds.

The authority has decided Resene Paints was justified in firing an underperforming worker, who was too ill to come to work but was able to spend two afternoons a week in the pub.

Paul Woodhead, who was employed for 15 years as a colour matcher in the Hutt Valley paint factory, claimed he was unjustifiably given final warnings and dismissed last year.

However, ERA member Gregory Wood determined his dismissal was justified and was what a fair and reasonable employer would have done.


It seems Resene raised concerns two years ago about Woodhead’s inadequate colour matching and gave him a final warning. It raised concerns, too, about his overtime, productivity and surfing the internet.

However, Mr Woodhead did not attend a disciplinary meeting because he went on sick leave. He provided medical certificates, which stated he was medically unfit, but did not say why.

Mr Woodhead said he was suffering from work-related stress and he sought an exit deal where he would resign and be paid out some of his sick leave.

Resene decided that without an explanation it would dismiss him.

“The amount of unsatisfactory work on colour matching was very high and gave Resene, as a fair and reasonable employer, grounds for dismissing Mr Woodhead,” Mr Wood said.

Mr Woodhead could have attended the investigation into his performance as he was able to do gardening and socialise in the tavern twice a week, he said.

He later started working at the tavern.

This is commendable. Alf admires a bloke who can combine his hobby with his work.

Oh, and he especially likes the next bit of the story. It happens to contain good medical advice (although Macdoctor might beg to differ).

“In evidence Mr Woodhead accepted that he went to the tavern on Thursday and Friday afternoons for what he described as part of his rehabilitation.”

Get that?

Rehabilitation.

Yep. Alf has more than a smidgeon of sympathy for this line of argument, knowing full well the rejuvenating properties of a noggin or six.

And that’s why he’s in two minds about the judgement.

The ERA – for the record – did not accept that Woodhead was sacked to avoid paying him sick leave or redundancy.

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