Sacked farmer gets $33k

Waikato Times Weekend - - BUSINESS - ANUJA NADKARNI

An ex­pe­ri­enced dairy farmer was re­fused pay and his fam­ily of six given days to leave their home af­ter he raised con­cerns about his em­ploy­ment con­tract.

But he has been awarded nearly $33,500, in­clud­ing money for an ex­tra 243 hours he worked but was not paid for, af­ter the Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Au­thor­ity (ERA) found he suf­fered sig­nif­i­cant emo­tional and fi­nan­cial harm from his dis­missal.

Greig Pur­cell, a dairy farmer with more than 16 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence, ap­plied for a job as a full time dairy man­ager at Brails­ford farms in Ti­rau last year.

This in­cluded a salary of $42,000 for work­ing an av­er­age of 40 hours a week, as well as ac­com­mo­da­tion for his part­ner and four daugh­ters, who were aged 10 years and younger.

Pur­cell was of­fered the job af­ter an in­ter­view and told a full em­ploy­ment agree­ment and job de­scrip­tion would be pro­vided be­fore he started.

But this did not hap­pen and Pur­cell ended up work­ing 60-hour weeks on the farm he de­scribed as be­ing in a ‘‘poor con­di­tion’’.

He also said he of­ten re­ceived his fort­nightly pay late, which put a ‘‘great deal of pres­sure’’ on his fam­ily.

It was only months af­ter he started work­ing that Pur­cell fi­nally re­ceived an em­ploy­ment agree­ment, which was quite dif­fer­ent to what he had un­der­stood it would be.

When Pur­cell re­fused to sign the con­tract, Brails­ford said he couldn’t work there any­more and share­holder Nei Pryor, also known as Naden Tami­here, dis­missed Pur­cell by text mes­sage.

Pryor’s text said: ‘‘Ok well we cant [sic] have u [sic] work for us then greig as thats [sic] our only con­tract sorry.’’

Min­utes later he sent an­other text ask­ing him to va­cate the house.

‘‘A for­mal let­ter will be sent out to­mor­row with in­dtruc­tion [sic] on when to va­cate the house and ev­ery­thing greig’’.

Brails­ford gave Pur­cell and his fam­ily only four days to va­cate the house they had been pro­vided.

Brails­ford re­fused to pay Pur­cell his salary for the pre­vi­ous fort­night un­til they va­cated the premises.

Pryor and Brails­ford did not at­tend the in­ves­ti­ga­tion but pro­vided a state­ment in re­ply deny­ing any in­volve­ment in the em­ploy­ment of Pur­cell.

Pur­cell said af­ter the dis­missal he be­came stressed and wor­ried about his fam­ily and where they were go­ing to live.

The ERA said the em­ploy­ment agree­ment, de­spite not be­ing signed, re­quired Brails­ford to give two weeks no­tice of ter­mi­na­tion in writ­ing.

The ERA said Pur­cell’s dis­missal was ‘‘grossly un­fair’’.

‘‘The im­pact on him emo­tion­ally and fi­nan­cially was sig­nif­i­cant,’’ the au­thor­ity said.

It awarded Pur­cell $16,521 for lost wages and hol­i­day pay, $15,000 for hurt and hu­mil­i­a­tion from his dis­missal and about $1970 in court costs.

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