13 Sep 2013

Surprise at payout Marryatt getting

8:18 pm on 13 September 2013

An employment lawyer says the fact the departing chief executive of the Christchurch City Council is walking away with hundreds of thousands of dollars is a surprise, considering he had to resign.

Tony Marryatt resigned on Friday morning, saying he accepted final responsibility for the council losing its building consents' accreditation.

Tony Marryatt.

Tony Marryatt. Photo: RNZ

Mr Marryatt has been suspended on full pay since July and as part of his severance package will continue to receive his full pay for another two-and-a-half months before being paid just under $270,000.

Employment lawyer Peter Cullen says while he's not surprised Mr Marryatt has resigned, he is surprised by the amount of money he is taking away with him - the equivalent of almost nine month's salary - which Mr Cullen says is "generous under the circumstances".

He says this is at the upper end of what is normally paid to somebody leaving with a clean slate and not what would be expected when they have had to resign.

"With a payout for a chief executive it really depends on the circumstances of the departure and if they're in a blameless position they might get a sum of money like this or a bit more but when there's been a lot of problems what they'd normally get would drop right down."

Mr Marryatt was placed on leave on full pay in July while an investigation was carried out into his role in the council losing its accreditation to issue building consents.

The investigation found that in normal times Mr Marryatt would have been expected to be aware of the problem and his failure to do so was because of the pressure he was under following the earthquakes and the rebuild.

Despite these mitigating factors, Mr Marryatt said the final responsibility for the loss of accreditation rested with him.

Mr Marryatt, who was the highest paid council executive in the country, remains suspended on full pay until 30 November when he will stand down.

Protester 'outraged'

A longtime critic of Mr Marryatt, who organised a rally protesting Mr Marryatt's $68,000 pay rise in December 2011, says he is outraged by the severance payout.

Peter Lynch says the incoming chief executive should have a more transparent contract.

"The days of the myth of talents and the golden parachute, it's over. It's not sustainable; it's unacceptable. Sure if they want to do that in the private sector so be it but when it's ratepayers' money it should be a straighforward contract."

He says he hopes the councillors who approved Mr Marryatt's pay rise will not be re-elected in October.