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Chris The Lawyer
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
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Experience:  38 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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If an independent contractor has her contract terminated by

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If an independent contractor has her contract terminated by the company 1.5 hours prior to her start time, on the grounds that she formally worked there as a staff member, does the contractor have the right to seek compensation for the 2 weeks without income?

The company had assured the contractor in email that this work was 100% going ahead, & were aware she was a former staff member when approached to do the work. The position of cancellation is that they said they have a policy not to allow former staff to contract for the organisation.

Further information follows:

- New Zealand Law
- There is a very clear contract of service made via email
-- There is a clear start time, hours, work location, completion date and the work had been outlined
- Document outlining the work had been received
- There is no termination clause in my contract, but surely 1.5 hours is not reasonable
- It was not a surprise to any party involved that I was a former staff
- The company approached me to undertake this work, with the knowledge that I was a former staff member
- I double checked this contract was 100% going ahead
- The work was still there on the day cancelled the contract, and I was still willing to do the work as per all conditions of my contract
- They claim a staff member has not followed policy when employing my services.

christhelawyer : HiWelcome to JustAnswer. My first response will follow shortly. Please feel free to follow up if anything is not clear
christhelawyer : Although this cannot be argued in the Employment Relations Authority, you would have a strong claim in the Disputes Tribunal.

The fact that it isn't a written contract and is all via email is okay?


Also, they claim 1.5 hours was notice. I think this is not okay

christhelawyer : there is a clear offer and acceptance of your contract and clear terms. They have cancelled for reasons, which they were aware of, and must have waived when they agreed to contract with you, given that they knew you were an employee. The contract is OK by email, and perhaps more damages can be claimed for the very short notice. I suggest first write a letter expressing your disappointment and asking for the money, or perhaps you be permitted to work as agreed. If they refuse then claim in the Tribunal.
Thanks. My advice\ for the future is as a contractor don't commence anything until you sign something off in writing. Noting that you were not provided with a written contract which you should have been given before commencing any work with us.

I'm sorry but as a potential provider of a contracted service we do not have the same legal obligations to you as we would to a possible permanent employee in a similar situation.You have been given notice that your contract of service is not required Noting that you do not have a written contract providing for a notice period, therefore we are not required to compensate you for any potential loss of income.

Ignore that...hit enter.


Basically that is what they said to me when I asked for compensation

christhelawyer : Then take them to the Tribunal. What they say is that they can breach a promise of work in a cavalier fashion. But a breach of a clear contract such as you describe is wrong at law ( and pretty unethical)

Thanks you!


Oh, one more question. this is a govt organisation. Is it work requesting all documents relating to this contract under the Official information Act prior to taking them to the tribunal?

christhelawyer : You can definitely ask for this.


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