Forfeiture Clause Ineffective
A clause in an employment agreement that provided a commonly used clause did not entitle an employer to deduct four weeks pay from…
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Judge Inglis has repeated her reservations about the “double-whammy” effect of dismissal and a damages claim, both arising out of the same poor performance during the employment relationship. She considers that it “sits uncomfortably with the statutory mechanisms for resolving employment relationship issues and may well have a chilling effect on employees considering a personal grievance, concerned not to prompt a retaliatory damages claim in response” (Rainbow Falls Organic Farm Ltd v Rockell  NZEmpC 136.
The first issue was whether a 100% reduction in remedies was in fact permitted by s 124 of the Act (reducing the remedy due to contributing behaviour by the employee). Chief Judge Colgan considered that there was a “respectable argument” that it was not, but he thought the matter needed to be addressed another time and by a full court.
The Employment Court agreed with the Authority in penalising the misleading and deceptive actions of a charitable trust that misled the unions it was bargaining with so that they believed government funding constrained it from agreeing to a greater increase in wages. It also agreed that the trust had conferred an unlawful preference upon non-union employees by giving them an increase backdated beyond that given to union members.
In the past it has been thought that getting a new employee to sign and return a covering letter would be sufficient acknowledgment and acceptance of an employment offer and the terms and conditions set out in an attached draft employment agreement. The Employment Relations Authority suggested recently that signing a covering letter might not be sufficient to signify acceptance of the agreement itself.