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Is the Kiwi male a workplace wuss? Hurt feelings, being asked to work weekends, and other employment woes

If I ever have a son in New Zealand, I imagine he would punch his way out of the womb, assume the scrum position, then ask where his shotgun is because it’s duck hunting season in the Waikato.

At least that’s how I imagined a male Kiwi is born: tough, macho, hair already growing on his ape-like chest.

But after months of reading Employment Relations Authority decisions, I’m getting the impression that today’s males in New Zealand are more like the Village People version of Macho Man, rather than the Sir Colin Meads of the old days.

This week, more authority decisions trickled out with workers claiming their employers hurt their feelings or, even worse, actually asking them to work.

Now I’m pretty sure my first editor ate cigarettes for breakfast and nails for dessert. It was 10 years ago but I still remember his hatred for humanity and the bloodlust for junior reporters that emanated from his desk.

After a hiding from him, I always waited until I got home to cry with a bottle of vodka and in the comfort of my own bed, which is the proper way to deal with workplace stress.

But I never, ever, considered contacting an employment lawyer seeking advice on my hurt feelings.

Unfortunately for employers, the trend in employment law is moving in the opposite direction.

An analysis by the Employers and Manufacturers Association found 67%, or 245, of 366 personal grievance awards made by the authority in 2012 were in favour of employees.

That’s up 13% on 2011, when 201 of 371 claims favoured employees.

On average, the authority awarded more compensation to employees for hurt feelings and humiliation – up $634, or 13%, from the year prior to $5610.

Here are just a few examples from this week.

Labourer Craig Cardwell was awarded $1000 after seeking $5000 “for the shock and devastating effect upon his relationship” his dispute caused with former employer Rob Gold Builders.

Really? Because the guy quit his job on his own accord and the dispute arose over his final paycheck. Technically, there was no longer a relationship.

The authority found “there was little if any evidence supporting more than a minimal award for hurt and humiliation. An award of $1000 is appropriate.”

Minimal is $1000? When I think of minimal, I think more like maybe a Canadian penny or some other worthless coin at the bottom of my purse leftover from my last holiday.

Not $1000.

Over in Napier, butcher Kevin Hodgson claims he was unjustifiably dismissed by Downey’s City Butchery and sought an unspecified amount for hurt and humiliation for the way he was dismissed.

By the way, Mr Hodgson was very clear to his employer that he didn’t want to work Saturdays or Friday evenings, an increasingly busy time for the small, family-owned business.

After Mr Hodgson gave “modest evidence about the effect the termination of his employment had on him,” he was awarded $3000 for his personal grievance.

And my favourite this week comes from the former CFO of Broadlands Finance, Brian Capper, who says he was bullied and given too much work.

Like many finance companies, Broadlands took a bashing during the global financial crisis. Whether or not he was given more work is a moot point.

During and after the crisis, no matter which organisation you worked for in the world, you were probably asked to pull up your big-boy Batman underwear and work harder.

Instead, Mr Capper took sick leave and never returned to the office for his job.

The Employment Relations Authority dismissed his allegations.

More by Stephanie Flores

Comments and questions

absolutely right on the nail, not only male though. It is all about getting as much from the(small) employer as they have not got the money to fight it! misuse the system!

SME owners consistently get shafted by this system some of the payouts can cripple owners, it's hardly boom times
Mostly we work 60 hrs a week or more to offset the no overtime or extra weeks leave by employees
Sure after 20 years in business you may have a great stable workforce but check the stats SMEs rarely last that long but sure as hell employ the bulk of the workforce
There no support from central govt the become employers and contracting saff to reduce risk was effectively squashed
The only positive is we don't have unions trying to crush us on the other side like Oz

What a great article. It all starts at the anti-smacking bill

'...paycheck....'??? My god, NBR hits the bottom again!

Next we'll be calling NZ N-Zee. No, wait

Or driving around in our Jagwars

Or another way to look at it would be that the working class poor are so disenfranchised, so down trodden and without hope of achieving the simple family dreams w/ a comfortable retirement like there grand parents had that they say F it ... the marked increase in the ratio of CEO / GM to Worker pay has breed discontent and this is just one manifestation of it

If you had another look at the circumstances behind all of this, were these employees reared and bought up with dual parents??? because I believe the Fatherly role model in a family is the most important ingredient in any family and the flow on effects, I suspect a lot of these instances are influenced by a Fatherless society, lets face it, we are in a generation where marriage is only a temporary situation, as most are dissolved within 10 years and it is the Children that suffer, and this article touches on the effects of a Fatherless upbringing......perhaps!!??
I was bought up in an era, where the Father went to work rain hail or shine, rolled his sleeves up and worked his but off, I bought up my/our 4 kids the same way, but have watched on as most modern families are now Fatherless, and I believe this is 9/10's of most modern day problems, closely followed by the lack of discipline!!

What a load of macho rubbish!! Surely you reap what you sow!! Treat your colleagues with a lack of respect & what are they meant to do. turn the other cheek, take it on the chin? No they will hit you where it hurts by the means they have available & good on them for it!!!