Elborado Showdown – The Shit Hits The Fan pt 2

New Zealand Employment Law is defective

19 August 2009
I’ve seen lots of anecdotal evidence that it’s difficult for firms to fire problem employees under the Kiwi Employment Relations Act. The procedures are often described as onerous.

Here’s a great one. Disgruntled employee of Inland Revenue (the Kiwi IRS) drives his car through the plate glass first floor windows of the IRD’s Christchurch Office, then tells the attending police officers that he had every intention of doing it.

IRD’s notification letter to David Theobald, the driver, is hilarious and depressing. The whole thing is documented here, including photos of the crash scene, the police report, and the letters from IRD to Theobald subsequent to the crash. Relevant excerpts:

From the police report:

The defendant admitted the facts as outlined and explained his actions stating ‘I had every intention to do that. I’ve thought about it and knew exactly what I was doing. I had warned them that someone could drive through there with a bomb in the car and create another 9-11, as they had no security measures.’

Seems pretty clear-cut. IRD’s response:

Commencement of an Employment Investigation

1. Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a vehicle through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building on Saturday 15 August 2009. I am commencing an employment investigation in to this matter.

2. I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct (contributing to a safe workplace and ensuring personal activities do not discredit Inland Revenue) and/or, the Standards of Integrity and Conduct, and/or your obligations to Inland Revenue, and that if substantiated, this conduct may amount to serious misconduct.

Suspension

3. Given the nature of the allegations I am considering whether, or not, suspension is appropriate. Your employment agreement provides for this to be on pay.

Wow.

bk drinkwater said…
Your headline is a noble attempt at understatement greater than part (2) of the IRD letter.

Philip said…
I don’t have much of a problem with the IRD letters. They will just be form letters. I mean it’s pretty obvious in this case, but there would be cases where employees were accused of crimes/misconduct where it would be a lot murkier. It’s probably a lot safer/cheaper/easier for everyone involved if the IRD just sends out the same letter to everyone that they are investigating rather than starting to tailor the letter to specific cases..

2 thoughts on “Elborado Showdown – The Shit Hits The Fan pt 2

  1. Problem employees — If this gets used to tighten the already absurd powers employers have to fire employees I’ll know NZ is on a one way trip to hell for anyone who works.

    I’ll make submissions against that and out up pages of evidence to show the problem employees were the managers.

    1. Responded on their own blog as well – although I assume the ‘moderation may take several days’ indicates they have a lot of visitors.

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