Oranga Tamariki worker fired for not getting Covid19 vaccine awarded $5000

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Jun 23, 2023 |

A former Oranga Tamariki worker has won an Employment Relations Authority case, after he refused to comply with the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy implemented by the government.

Andrew Fale worked as a youth worker in South Auckland when the vaccination mandate was introduced.

However, he chose not to disclose his vaccination status, believing that his role did not fall under the new mandate.

As a result, he was subsequently fired.

Fale then filed a grievance claim with the Employment Relations Authority, asserting that his dismissal was unjustified both procedurally and substantively.

The government introduced the vaccination policy for school employees on October 11, 2021, with a deadline of January 1, 2022, for compliance.

Oranga Tamariki initiated its consultation process with staff regarding the vaccination order eight days after the policy announcement.

Fale, who was on sick leave between late October and early November, claimed that he did not receive his employer’s attempts to contact him through phone or email regarding the vaccination order.

On November 12, Fale’s team leader email to him via email.

If he had not received his first vaccine dose by November 15, he would be unable to continue his regular duties.

The authority determined that Fale had less than three days to consider the situation due to the late contact made on November 12.

It was also noted that Oranga Tamariki should have been aware that Fale did not have access to work emails while on leave.

Fale’s voice was not heard as part of the consultation process regarding the proposed policy, which disadvantaged him.

“There was no justification for not ensuring that employees like Fale who were absent from the workplace and therefore not clearing their work emails, could still participate in the consultation process for such an important policy change that could have a significant impact on their employment.”

Oranga Tamariki said Fale’s dismissal was substantively justified because he was not legally entitled to work in in the residential unit from 1 January 2022 because he was unvaccinated.

The authority emphasised that the communication deficiencies created a negative impression for Fale regarding his treatment by Oranga Tamariki, leading to stress.

The authority acknowledged that Fale had experienced unjustifiable disadvantage in his employment.

The decision highlighted an “absence of communication” by Oranga Tamariki, which contributed to Fale’s perception of unfair treatment.

Additionally, Fale had not been adequately informed about potential redeployment options.

Consequently, the authority concluded that Fale suffered hurt feelings as a result of the organization’s poor communication and awarded him $5000 in compensation for the humiliation, loss of dignity, and injury to his feelings.

Oranga Tamariki has been ordered to pay the compensation to Andrew Fale, acknowledging the adverse impact of their communication shortcomings.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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