A Queenstown couple has been ordered to pay their former Swedish nanny $1190 following a bitter employment dispute.
Janine and Hamish Learmonth owe that amount in unpaid wages and holiday pay to Amanda Akeson, the Employment Relations Authority has found.
ERA member James Crichton – who also orders Akeson to repay the Learmonths $179.69 for phone calls and half the cost of a replacement tyre – states “this was not an employment relationship made in heaven”, in a ruling released last week.
Akeson – who worked 17.5 weeks for the Learmonths for $200 a week – alleged the couple didn’t pay her final three weeks’ wages or any holiday pay.
But the Learmonths contended Akeson didn’t work during a period the family was holidaying in Samoa last November and another period afterwards.
Crichton says the family took their nanny with them on holiday to Samoa but then decided she should go home early and dropped her off at the island’s international airport.
Akeson, who denied she’d refused to work, said the Learmonths forced her to leave because she was “wrecking their holiday”.
Crichton: “Ms Akeson refers to being ‘very emotional as I’d just come from Sweden and was taken to Samoa which turned into a nightmare for me with the Learmonths’.”
Crichton records that Akeson was left at the airport with insufficient funds to buy herself a fresh ticket.
“In the end, Ms Akeson told me that she was befriended by some other tourists who effectively took her in and looked after her for a period until she ran across the Learmonth family at one of the resorts.
“By all accounts, that chance meeting did not go well.”
Crichton rules that a relationship between an au pair and a family is “still an employment relationship covered by NZ law”.
“It cannot be fair and just for payments to be arbitrarily stopped and started because of dissatisfaction.
“If there is dissatisfaction with the services being provided, then there are clear procedures in the law for dealing with that dissatisfaction; no such procedures were engaged or undertaken in the present case.”
Janine Learmonth was in the news last year after badly injuring her neck after a new Coronet Peak Ski Area lift malfunctioned.