Greenkeeper gets payout

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Queenstown Golf Club has been ordered to chip in about $10,000 in unpaid wages and costs to a former assistant greenkeeper. 

Employment Relations Authority member Helen Doyle awarded Mark Instone $5628 for unpaid wages plus interest dating back to the winter of 2008. 

Instone also pockets $450 holiday pay and $2500 costs – but claimed the case cost him $16,736. He went to the Authority after mediation was unsuccessful. 

The Authority found the golf club was wrong to suspend Instone without pay for seven weeks and four days over the 2008 winter. 

He was employed as a fulltime assistant greenkeeper in August 2007, but club superintendent Ryan Irwin, who started the following March, wasn’t aware whether Instone was taken on as a permanent or casual employee. 

As a result the club thought Instone’s employment was at an end the next winter, after he had taken all his accrued leave. 

“Mr Instone’s employment was suspended without his agreement,” Doyle says. 

The Authority dismissed Instone’s other claims, including $20,000 in compensation and penalties for alleged breaches of his employment agreement. 

The Authority states Instone was re-employed by the golf club, but at a reduced $17.50 an hour rate, and for a fixed eight-month term, in September 2008. Previously he was on $19. Instone signed the agreement but, after seeking legal advice, wrote a letter asking to withdraw his signature. 

The greenkeeper resigned in February last year, ending his letter with the words, “thanks for nothing”. 

Doyle’s decision says she has considerable sympathy for Instone but doesn’t find a deliberate lack of good faith to deprive him of his terms and condition. 

“Rather this was an unfortunate set of circumstances.”