An ear nurse working for Triton Hearing has been awarded $31,808 in compensation and lost wages after she was made redundant during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The Employment Relations Authority ordered Triton Hearing to pay Gail Lees $17,000 in compensation, $14,742 in lost wages and $66.30 in interest.
Triton conceded that when it finalised its decision to disestablish Lees’ position it had not followed proper procedure, but the company argued that their deficiencies should be viewed in the context of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Triton managing director James Whittaker said, when New Zealand went into lockdown, his focus lay with protecting the business so that it could reopen and trade in the future.
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He said Triton’s overseas counterparts had already been significantly affected by the pandemic, and he considered the New Zealand clinics would be equally affected.
Triton Hearing has been ordered to pay former ear nurse Gail Lees $31,808 for unjustified dismissal. (file photo)
As a consequence, during the first week of the lockdown he and Triton’s management team sought to reduce overheads.
Triton determined that it no longer wished to continue with the wax removal service performed by its ear nurses as those functions were not a core business activity and regarded as uneconomic.
Lees’ employment was based at Triton’s Johnsonville location, but she travelled to clinics across the Wellington region.
Part of her work involved ear wax removal functions, but her role was not limited to those activities.
Records showed that ear wax removal made up between 40 and 50 per cent of Lees’ time.
Triton admitted that the other functions of Lees’ role continued and were now undertaken by other staff.
On March 30 last year, Lees was informed by letter that her position had been disestablished as the company planned to stop doing ear wax removal.