News Article

latest news in employment law


Published 01 Sep 2009

In a recent redundancy case Jinkinson v Oceana Gold (NZ) Ltd - there was a casual employment agreement in place. The applicant, a grade controller, worked on a consistent basis following a roster but there were times when she was told there was no work available. The employee did not work or get paid for those periods. Similarly she was not paid when she took other days off. The Employment Relations Authority held that the applicant was a casual employee.

However on appeal regarding the status of the employment arrangement, the Employment Court, applying the law to the facts of the employment relationship, found that the employee worked extensively and consistently for the employer such that within a few months of commencing she was entitled to have a legitimate expectation of ongoing employment and the employer was obliged to provide her with work on an ongoing basis. The payment of bonuses, wages in lieu of notice and redundancy compensation supported a permanent rather than a casual employment relationship. The use of a roster system to offer work was also regarded as significant.
The Respondent proposed combining a number of positions into new roles but the applicant was not appointed to any of the new positions. Subsequently her employment was terminated despite there being new positions vacant.

This decision is noted for what it has to say about the differences between a casual and a permanent employment relationship and for its confirmation that an analysis of the real nature of the employment relationship will supersede its written description if the two are in conflict.

There is nothing new in the Court's conclusions, but the decision reinforces the judgments in a number of cases which held, for similar reasons, that employment relationships described as casual were, in reality, permanent.

Ensure that you are using the most up to date agreements. Employer Support Package members please see the 'Agreements' module in the Employers Toolbox online. Others may purchase new and variation agreements online Click here