Security firm penalised for non-compliance with employment agreements

ERA also rules employee was casual, not full-time

Security firm penalised for non-compliance with employment agreements

A security company in New Zealand has been ordered to pay over $4,000 for failing to comply with the requirements of employment agreements when it hired a casual employee it hired last year.

Kawarau Security Services Ltd employed Elizabeth Zhang Shuyi for security duties in 2023.

Her stint, however, was short-lived after starting in January 14 and ending in February 12, when her employer stopped giving her shifts.

By March 21, Zhang was removed from the company's Facebook Messenger group, and her emails on April 17 and 21 over her employment status went unanswered.

Zhang said she was not provided with an employment agreement, with the document later handed to her a "template type" that omitted most of the requirements under the Employment Relations Act 2000.

She claimed that the employment relationship ended by dismissal and that it was unjustified.

She also said she was disadvantaged for the issue of the employment agreement, adding that there were also delays in pay and a lack of payslips.

ERA ruling on employment status

But the ERA ruled that the employment relationship was casual, as opposed to Zhang's view that it was permanent and full time.

The ERA noted that Zhang could tell her employer when she was unavailable for work rather than asking and gave notice that she wanted to have leave.

"The period she was unavailable for work included four weekends as well as some weekdays in early March 2023," the ERA ruled.

"Ms. Zhang could change availability at short notice for the rosters. The hours of work fluctuated and start and finish times were not always consistent. The Facebook messaging supports Ms. Zhang identified when she was available to be rostered on and when she was not."

The ERA then ruled that her case did not constitute a dismissal.

"It was a casual relationship where there was no further offer of work after the last shift worked on 12 February 2023," the authority said.

Ruling on employment agreement

The ERA, however, ruled that Zhang should have been provided with the intended employment agreement before her employment began, and when she later asked for them.

"There was a degree of deliberateness I conclude in not properly responding to these requests. It was not inadvertent," the ERA ruled.

"Ms. Zhang was left in a position where she was not able to properly weigh her employment status and whether she could earn a reasonable living at Kawarau Security."

As a result, Kawarau Security Services has been ordered to pay a penalty of $4,000 for failing to comply with the requirements for employment agreements and not providing wage and time records.

It is also ordered to pay holiday pay of $141 gross to Zhang, as well as costs in the sum of $2,250 together with reimbursement of the filing fee of $71.56.

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