Monthly Archives: September 2012

Dying Man(ager) Fired for Staying Alive

It’s always good to exceed your employer’s expectations, but what if you do it just by not dying when everyone thought you would. And then you get fired for it.

This is what happened to Len Clapham, whose employers knew full well he had terminal cancer. In fact they created a position for him on this basis and employed  him on this basis.  The only problem for the Auckland-based survey company Alexander and Co came when Len didn’t cash in his chips when he was expected to.

Len resigned from his former position as a CEO in Wellington and moved up to Auckland. The expectation of Alexander and Co. was six months, “even a six month period might be optimistic” , so they asked Len to sign their standard employment agreement rather than a fixed term contract. What they in fact got was near to a year, longer if Len hadn’t been shown the door in  May 2011.

Len’s employers then made him redundant in what Clapham called a “sham redundancy”. The Employment Relations Authority agreed that the employers had “at best mixed motives”, heavily weighted in favour of edging Len out for reasons other than the downturn of business. Indeed, interest in Lens health and performance show that his employers had a great deal more than redundancy on their mind.

The Authority slammed Alexander and co for the “strong suggest[ion] that the redundancy was a sham” and the accompanying absence of consultation and Len duly received  14 weeks salary and $12,000 in compensation.

Cold comfort, perhaps.

Read more here:

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Weeding out the Wimps

Rich (all-round office good-guy) is looking for an outdoorsey summer job and stumbled across this pearler. Would he have made the cut as an all-terrain weed battler?  Sadly we will never know, the ad has been pulled from Trademe now, Rich has missed the boat. I mean, we recommend being as frank as possible in your job descriptions.. but is there such a thing as too honest? Nutters like Rich (and the 50 legit applicants) would clearly say no.

“This job is not for wimpy, feint hearted, soft ‘run to mummy’ halfwits with pants halfway down their bottoms! We only want staff that will do as they are told by their supervisors, follow company rules and can put up with being wet, hot, cold, exhausted, hungry and thirsty, you also need to be able to sit in a van for three hours and not complain to us. (We don’t listen & we don’t care).

You need to be of a stature that you can walk around hills and bluffs and climb in and out of small helicopters without terrifying the pilot. If this sounds like you, then you’re probably completely mad and we would love to have you.”

There’s nothing like cutting straight to the point.

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Pirate Grannies Meet JayZ; 3 Strikes and You’re Out

Remember when we harped on about the 3 strikes law back in May?

If not (for shame) you can do a quick catch up of the nuts and bolts of it here:

So.. is it easy to haul a pirate in front of the Copyright Tribunal and whack them with a $15,000 fine?

RIANZ a.k.a The Recording Industry Association will be hoping so when they attempt to punish three Telecom customers who have been sent their third and final “strike” for (allegedly) pirating music over the internet.

Care to explain your piracy to JayZ?

RIANZ represents the big boys in the music world: EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner.  These companies in turn rep the industry royalty, Coldplay, Beyonce, JayZ, Rihanna, pretty much anyone you’ve found yourself humming away to.

The details of the (accused) pirates and their tune of choice is likely to be kept under wraps. The tribunal are also likely to exercise their wide discretion as to the penalties: ” If it was a granny who got through to “strike three” because her teenage grandchildren had been using her wireless connection and it was quite clear she hadn’t personally infringed, you can imagine the penalty might be lower and the tribunal might say it was inappropriate to reveal the identity of the alleged infringer”  says Rick Shera,  Intellectual Property specialist.

Telecom’s  Jo Jalfron also echoes that this law will be niggly to enforce: “This is a relatively new regime, and for customers proving just who has infringed copyright via file sharing networks within a household can be a challenge. Often the account holder is a parent but the person using the file sharing technology to upload or download material illegally is a child or even a guest.”

3 strikes put an end to Bill’s secret Kayne West downloading sprees

Nonetheless, the buck stops with he whose name is at the top of the account and, as we said back in May, in the workplace this will be the employer. You might never get to meet JayZ but via the RIANZ he could  whack you for $15,000. An expensive claim to fame.

While the creases are ironed out of the new law it won’t be easy. The cases and penalties will depend on the who what and why and  we may be kept in the dark as to the identities of the infringers and what they have downloaded.

But, whether you know it or not you may have a pirate in your midst.   As an employer you need to protect yourself and your business.  Want to avoid 99 problems? Employment expert Barbara Buckett suggests you have clear policies on internet use and offer employment agreements that spell out permitted uses and penalties. The rest should be plain sailing.



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John’s Sweet Sweet Moves

Couldn’t resist…

Prime Minister John Key, hip wit the kids, an asset to any d-floor.

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Harry Caught with his Pants Down; Queen wears a Hoodie

TESSA KATE HOGG   04/09/12

The poor Royals; the recent photos of Harry’s baller weekend in Vegas may just be the tip of the iceberg and the Queen, in despair, has taken to wearing a hoodie.

Granted, most of us aren’t  third in line to the throne and could do naked cartwheels through Caesar’s palace without anyone batting an eyelid. Anything goes in Sin City. Unless you are Harry, his PR team or a member of the Royal family, the photos that emerged from the red-headed royal’s Vegas rager are funny (so far) and (reasonably) harmless.

Nonetheless, there are a few career lessons to be learnt from Harry’s nude frolic.

Will the Vegas hijinks have major consequences for Harry? Maybe not, but for the average Joe, what happens when ‘what happens in Vegas’ follows you home?

Back in the day, what went on tour might have stayed on tour and poor old Harry may have slipped under the radar. But now technology can quickly and quietly throw you under the bus.

When, like Harry, you decide for whatever reason, that strip pool is a good idea, just remember everyone has a phone, not just an old brick but a photo-taking, video-making, all access pass to career suicide. Anyone can take a snap, tag it, post it, copy it, tweet it. One day your ballin’ in Vegas, the next (depending on your choice of company) you’ve gone viral..

For the less royal,  whether it ends up as a dent in your reputation or before you even get your foot in the door, employers are aware of what’s happening on-line and those antics may come back to bite you.

Some, like Wellington receptionist Nicola, are wary of the internet’s wicked ways: “I’m scared of Facebook because I’m old”. Yet, those of us from gens X, Y and Z don’t seem to share this caution.  We should;  a new survey released by US applicant screening company Jobvite this year shows that 92% of employers are either using or planning to use social networks during recruitment. Almost half will always look at an applicants social media site. What are they looking for? According to the survey: drugs, alcohol and bad spelling. Oh Harry,  two of three aint good.

Despite  being officially on leave, the playboy prince will get his knuckles rapped by his employers, the British Army. As one of the Army’s highest profile officers he will be brought to heel by his superiors, although they have made it sound fairly mild (old chap): “there won’t be any shouting and ranting, but Harry will be reminded that he has overstepped the mark. It doesn’t matter that the incident took place on leave, behind closed doors.” 

While Harry “might well get away with it because of his youth and notoriety”, employment law expert Barbara Buckett emphasises that the law in this area is murky , particularly where technology is concerned: “what’s private is private, but you don’t want to find yourself caught in the grey area.”

Whether you can be fired for social media faux pas In New Zealand is a matter of fact and degree. If the gaffe is public, which many online antics are, then your professional standing might take a blow. If so there is a good chance this will reflect on the business and affect your ability to do the job, just ask the kid responsible for  molesting Burger King lettuce..

Salad aside, we (common-folk) are unlikely to cause the media frenzy that Harry, in all his ginger glory, has. Nonetheless, technology has evolved and drunken romps can follow you all the way into the office. If you are an employer, be clear in your policies as to what will be tolerated and what will not. If you are an employee, be careful.

In the stone cold light of day the hangover may not be worth it. If there’s a chance your employers might see it then strip pool is (probably) less than wise.

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