Sixty Hewlett-Packard staff are pursuing a personal grievance claim against the company, after it withdrew a superannuation fund, according to current and former staff. At issue is the company’s plan to close down a superannuation scheme provided as part of the employment package of many long-term staff.
“The company paid contributions into the fund and [matched] the employees’ [payments] dollar for a dollar, or even better in some instances, and then they decided to close the fund down… and wouldn’t compensate [the employees] when withdrawing that scheme,” says one HP employee.
According to another industry source, the original HP staff in New Zealand were offered lower salaries plus 12.5% of their salary in superannuation. Now the fund has been closed, they consider themselves out-of-pocket.
HP’s spokesman Stephen Robertson said last week that “after lengthy conversations” the company had no comment.
According to a HP staff member, the claim has been in mediation for some time and negotiations have now reached an impasse.
“The company is taking a really hard line,” they say.
HP has offered one year’s payment as a form of compensation, says the employee, but only if all 60 employees agree to take it — if not, no one can take it.
“But what we are talking about is a 12.5% reduction in salary,” the employee says.
Specific superannuation legislation could apply to the case, says Joanne Watson, partner of Ruby Law in Hamilton, and a member of the Law Society’s Employment Law Committee.
Under employment law, if the superannuation fund was a term and condition of employment and a part of the employees’ total remuneration, the employer can’t just withdraw the scheme, she says. Most superannuation schemes are governed by trustees under specific terms.
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