Stupid

April 3rd, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A Gisborne man was justifiably fired after his boss saw Facebook pictures of him at a waka ama championship when he was meant to be at home sick, a court has found.

Bruce Taiapa has lost an appeal to try and overturn an Employment Relations Authority ruling that his employer, the training institute Turanga Ararau, was within its rights to sack him in July 2011 because he misused his .

Employment Court chief judge Colgan backed up the authority’s ruling in a decision released yesterday.

In March 2011, Taiapa, 59, asked to take a week’s leave without pay so he could attend the waka ama championships in Rotorua. He was granted only three days off because no-one was available to cover his work.

The next Monday, he called in sick, saying he had a damaged calf muscle.

Two days later, his boss saw on Facebook a picture of him at the championships. Taiapa was smiling and giving the thumbs-up.

That is beyond stupid – both the calling a sick when you are not, but competing in waka champs and being photographed there.

Once he returned to Gisborne, Taiapa got a doctor’s certificate stating that he had been unfit to work for the past week. He returned to work three days later.

This is one of the reasons I am skeptical of the numbers on the sickness benefit. It is all too easy to get a certificate.

After a series of discussions, manager Sharon Maynard dismissed Taiapa for misusing his sick leave and misleading his employer. Maynard said she had lost trust and confidence in Taiapa.

Taiapa’s lawyers argued Turanga Ararau should not be able to dictate where Taiapa recuperated from his illness.

I don’t think taking part in a waka championship is recuperation!

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18 Responses to “Stupid”

  1. wreck1080 (3,725 comments) says:

    The only thing I’m amazed with is that the judge went against the employer.

    I’ve heard far worse cases than this where the employee has won.

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  2. DylanReeve (179 comments) says:

    This is one of the reasons I am skeptical of the numbers on the sickness benefit. It is all too easy to get a certificate.

    Getting a doctor’s certificate for a minor muscle injury (real or imagined) is a very different thing to qualifying for the sickness benefit.

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  3. dime (9,368 comments) says:

    i like how the last line in the article is “Taiapa has not secured work since his dismissal in July 2011.”

    like its the fault of the employer. such a sob story

    i think it sums him up as a man more than anything

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  4. Nigel Kearney (864 comments) says:

    What is the name of the doctor who signed the certificate?

    Despite the current practice, I think doctors should not certify anything unless there is medical evidence beyond the patient just telling the doctor a story after they have failed to turn up for work.

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  5. anonymouse (694 comments) says:

    The original ERA hearing is here, fairly interesting reading

    http://dol.govt.nz/workplace/determinations/PDF/2012/2012_NZERA_Auckland_252.pdf

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  6. nasska (10,622 comments) says:

    Obviously in this case the employee was misusing sick leave but the post & comments raise an interesting point. Employees may be required to produce a certificate confirming they were sick or injured.

    Getting a non urgent appointment to see a doctor on a particular day is in my experience nearly impossible. Given that the doctor is being asked to confirm a minor injury or illness which has probably righted itself before the consultation he/she probably has little option other than take the patient at their word.

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  7. Manolo (13,327 comments) says:

    A hard-working native, no doubt.

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  8. tvb (4,196 comments) says:

    It is the loss of trust that really mattered especially if the job involved trust. Too bad.

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  9. edhunter (491 comments) says:

    Knew someone who was on the Sickness Benefit for over 3yrs because they were a P addict, no counselling was ever attended, no rehabilitation attempted, just an easy touch doctor who once every 3 months signed him off as unfit for work.

    FYI you cant be a P addict on a benefit, the benefit just doesn’t pay enough to sustain an addiction like that. You’d be lucky to get 1 night blast of what a benefit pays. So if these people really are addicts how do they support their addictions? They’re either working under the table (best case scenario) or they’re committing crimes thieving, stealing, dealing, the benefit to them is just a little guaranteed pocket money each week.

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  10. Fisiani (944 comments) says:

    Was speaking with a group of GP’s and all of them admitted signing people off for sickness benefits due to conditions that are not bad enough to render them unable to work. None of them want to continue doing so and all wanted sickness benefit claims to be heard by doctors without a vested interest. When will the government stop this rort?

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  11. Chris2 (754 comments) says:

    Anonymouse @ 3;41pm – thanks for the link you gave of the original July 2012 Employment Relations Authority decision.

    Today’s stuff.co.nz news story relating to the appeal that Taiapa took to the Employment Court which was determined last month, has not yet been published on the Dept of Labour website.

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  12. slijmbal (1,210 comments) says:

    Doctors’ notes are open to abuse that is obvious. The majority don’t abuse it but a significant minority do.

    Current classic for me is a group of employees who deliberately started using extended doctor certified stress leave during en employee dispute. As the main protagonists had been abusing sick leave prior to the dispute they miscalculated, used up their entitlement and ended up with unpaid leave – it was entertaining. A good argument for caps on sick leave.

    Sadly, it’s nut jobs like these who screw it up for the real and honest people.

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  13. jonno1 (79 comments) says:

    When I managed a business in South Auckland I was constantly amazed at how many staff had Dr P…. of Grey Lynn as their GP.

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  14. Steve (North Shore) (4,491 comments) says:

    Ed @ 4.16

    FYI you cant be a P addict on a benefit, the benefit just doesn’t pay enough to sustain an addiction like that. You’d be lucky to get 1 night blast of what a benefit pays. So if these people really are addicts how do they support their addictions? They’re either working under the table (best case scenario) or they’re committing crimes thieving, stealing, dealing, the benefit to them is just a little guaranteed pocket money each week.

    You need to be on a benifit to manufacture meth – fuck if you had a job there would be no time to manufacture.
    Clearly you have not seen how these scumbags work/operate

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  15. Black with a Vengeance (1,552 comments) says:

    Once trust goes, there’s little option but to dismiss.

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  16. jonno1 (79 comments) says:

    I left the above-mentioned job with more than a year’s unused (and of course unpaid!) sick leave – about 250 accumulated days. Many of the junior staff (and some quite senior) had, um, none left, year on year. Sickly bunch.

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  17. Paul Marsden (986 comments) says:

    I’ve been an employer for over 30 years and I have heard every bullshit story in the book. My opinion of the ERA is unprintable, save that it should be abolished at the first opportunity. It is an anthema to the growth of the NZ economy. Doctors by nature, are for the most part, genteel people and as a consequence are easily intimidated or, care less about signing an unfit-for-work certificate as its no skin off their nose; don’t want any agro and just want to move onto the next patient. The entire process is nothing but a huge RORT, foisted upon me as an employer and the taxpayers of NZ.

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  18. Tautaioleua (281 comments) says:

    I thought employers were entitled to seek a second opinion using a doctor of their choice after three days of illness or more? wouldn’t this avoid dodgy med certificates?

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