A recent Employment Court judgement has upheld an Employment Relations Authority finding and penalty against an employee. In New Zealand, penalties against employees are only imposed in rare circumstances. In this case, the employee had claimed she was “injured” and took more than a year off work. She was photographed by a private investigator to be in a healthy condition.
The Employment Relations Authority found that that the employee had not only misled her Employer regarding her condition and provided inaccurate information, but she had failed to attend weekly meetings with the Employer to assess what capacity she could return to work or to comply with her rehabilitation plan. The Authority found that her conduct was “deliberate… serious and sustained over a long period of time”. This conduct was a breach of the implied terms of her employment agreement and her duty to act in good faith.
The case is an excellent reminder that in New Zealand, the duty of good faith works both ways and employees who bring vexatious, misleading claims, may be penalised.