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Vodafone New Zealand's general counsel David Kreider has won a bid to keep his $541,000 a year job after the phone company's acquisition of TelstraClear last year would have made him redundant in the subsequent restructure.
They were at odds as to whether the disestablishment of his position as general counsel and the creation of a legal director role were different jobs, after Mr Kreider missed out on getting the new position in February and was "likely to be made redundant as a consequence".
At stake was his salary of $345,000 in cash and average share bonuses worth $196,000.
Employment Relations Authority member Tania Tetitaha decided the new role of legal director was not substantially different and that Mr Kreider should be confirmed in or appointed to the role without having to go through a selection process, according to a May 14 determination published on the ERA website.
"There is organisational change by not evidence of significant changes in Mr Kreider's work environment," the ruling said. "A reasonable employer could not conclude the differences were of a sufficient degree to break the essential continuity of employment."
Vodafone head of corporate affairs Tom Chignell says the company disagrees with the determination and is reviewing whether to appeal.
The phone company claimed the new legal director role had a bigger team and needed new skills after the TelstraClear acquisition, including the ability to managing legal issues relating to the government's ultra-fast broadband initiative.
"The primary disagreement between the parties relates to the value of the work namely the multi-million dollar managed contracts and consequential liability and risks which arise," the determination said.
While the risk in the combined phone company was greater than what Mr Kreider faced when Vodafone was simply a mobile operator, that did not mean the roles were different, it said.
The role had not been filled at the time of the ruling, though Vodafone had picked a "prospective appointee for the role who is currently working elsewhere".
Mr Kreider also submitted Vodafone breached an agreement to keep the status quo by dropping him from the executive team and employing someone else in the role as UFB director, the ruling said. The alleged breach may be pursued at a substantive hearing if it is not settled sooner.