The Employment Relations Authority has ordered the interim reinstatement of an Iwi Manager who was dismissed from her position after refusing to sign a new employment agreement with reduced terms.

The manager had been on a fixed term contract, but when that term ended it was rolled over and another fixed term was offered.  When that fixed term ended it was again rolled over and another fixed term entered into.  At the end of that term the employee was offered a full time permanent contract, but on reduced benefits.  She advised the employer that she was considering the matter and taking legal advice and during that time she was dismissed on the basis that her fixed term had come to an end.

The ERA held that she had a good claim to be reinstated in the interim, as despite the breakdown in her working relationship with the current Chairman of the employer, another board member could take on that liaison role pending the outcome of the full hearing.

Employers need to be aware that fixed term employment agreements can become permanent if they are rolled over and if there is no longer a genuine reason for the fixed term.  There must be a genuine reason on each occasion that a fixed term is extended and the reason for that fixed term must be expressed in the employment agreement.

Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer