20 Mar 2016

Carpenter can't claim $9k in unpaid wages

11:30 am on 20 March 2016

A carpenter who was unjustifiably dismissed cannot claim compensation or unpaid wages because of a gap in the law.

A worker hammers down timber for a house's deck.

A file photo shows a worker hammering down timber for a house's deck. Photo: 123RF

Mark Johnstone's former company went into liquidation the day after he was fired, and he can't get the thousands of dollars he's owed.

He was told by Libor Limited his job was safe in the days leading up to the company's dissolution, and its takeover by another company, in August.

When he was sacked, he wasn't given a clear reason.

The Employment Relations Authority has ruled he was treated unfairly and is owed at least $8803.98 in wage arrears, but said it was legally powerless to enforce the ruling.

It said, unlike in the European Union, the law regarding the transfer of business ownership did not protect Mr Johnstone and he could not sue Libor Limited.

"Unlike in the countries of the European Union, where there is comprehensive legislative protection for employees in a position similar to that in which Mr Johnstone found himself, New Zealand law does not provide comprehensive protection to employees working in businesses that are transferred between owners," it said.

"This is most unfortunate for Mr Johnstone, but the authority has no jurisdiction to award him any remedies."

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