Arohanui Hospice Fails to Overturn Employment Ruling on Holiday Payments

Arohanui Hospice Service Trust has failed to overturn an employment monitoring decision on how it pays part-time employees for public holidays.

Grant Matthew / Stuff

Arohanui Hospice Service Trust has failed to overturn an employment monitoring decision on how it pays part-time employees for public holidays.

A Manawatū hospice failed to overturn an employment monitoring order that clarified how it should pay part-time employees for public holidays, even when those workers would not have been registered on those days.

Judge Joanna Holden said in her decision that she recognized the oddity, but that was how the employment contract was written.

Arohanui Hospice Service Trust and the New Zealand Nurses Organization have been in a legal battle over public holiday pay within the trust for some time, with the issue arising over the 2018/19 Christmas period.

The nurses’ collective agreement stipulated that any part-time worker who worked each week on fixed days benefited from public holiday provisions if they usually worked on the day the public holiday fell.

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But for part-time workers, those who worked more than 40% of the days on which the public holiday fell in the three months preceding the public holiday were entitled to public holiday provisions.

For example, someone who worked more than 40% of Mondays in the three months before Easter Monday would benefit from the public holiday provisions for that day.

However, part-time employees of the inpatient unit were enrolled several days per fortnight.

The trust believed that part-time workers only benefited from public holiday provisions if they were registered to work on the public holiday, but the union disagreed.

They believed the wording of the agreement meant that part-time workers benefited from public holiday provisions whether they were listed on the public holiday or not, as long as they met the 40% threshold.

The Labor Relations Authority sided with the union, but the trust took the case to the labor court.

In a November judgment, Holden said the union’s argument had merit.

This interpretation meant that employees who had never intended to work on the public holiday would nevertheless benefit from being paid an additional day beyond the agreed number of shifts.

“However, that’s what [collective agreement] foresees. »

The Holidays Act spelled out the minimum requirements for holiday pay, but there was nothing wrong with having better requirements in a contract, Holden said.

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