Raising a personal grievance – Your rights as an employee

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Personal GrievancesIf you feel like you have been treated unfairly then chances are that you may have the grounds to challenge your employer.  The difficulty arises in figuring out what gives you the right to challenge, and how to go about doing it.

The sort of issues that might give rise to a personal grievance (PG) are: 

  • Discrimination, for example on the basis of age, race or appearance.
  • Harassment and/or bullying by an employer or by a co-worker.
  • Disagreement about whether a warning should be issued.
  • Problems with health and safety.
  • Disagreement about the meaning of a term in an employment agreement.
  • Misunderstood or poorly managed discipline, dismissals, constructive dismissals, redundancies or restructuring.
  • Disputes over leave or pay (including deductions from pay).

It may be that a common sense approach to the problem by both parties will deal with the issue without further recourse. If this doesn’t worked then you will need a more formal approach.  The first step is to ascertain whether you have the grounds to raise a personal grievance with your employer.

When to raise a personal grievance
This is where an experienced employment lawyer can assist you by conducting a risk/benefit analysis of your case based on the particular facts and the relevant legal issues involved.  They will also advise you on the best strategy for success.  You will then be in a position to make an informed decision on whether to raise a PG, armed with an idea of your chances of success, the likely costs and the process involved. 

How to raise a personal grievance
‘Raising a PG’ means putting your employer on notice that there is a problem, what that problem is and what you would like them to do to fix it.   This will depend on the facts of the case and the grievance you have.  This notice should be given in writing and an employment lawyer can assist you in setting out your grievance and the remedies you require.

90 day time limit
You have 90 days from the date of the incident or grievance to bring a personal grievance.  After that time, your employer may consent to the grievance being raised out of time or you may be able to apply to bring the grievance out of time in some circumstances, for example if you have been suffering ill health and have not been able to deal with the problem in a timely manner.

What happens next?
What happens next largely depends on how your employer reacts to notice of your grievance.  The best outcome is for the parties to use good faith communications to solve the problem between them.  However, where this is not practical or successful then the mediation services of the Department of Business, Employment and Innovation (previously known as the Department of Labour) can assist to resolve the issues in a neutral setting.

An employment law specialist can assist you by preparing your case for mediation and attending with you.  If mediation is not successful then your employment lawyer can advise you on the likelihood of success of an application with the Employment Relations Authority and the costs involved.

 

In accordance with our obligations under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, we cannot provide legal advice unless you have become a client of Smith and Partners and have received our Terms & Conditions of Engagement and Info for Clients. 

If you would like advice on any employment law related matters, please contact Suzanne Sumner, Personal Assistant to employment law expert, Carolyn Ranson to find out how you can become a client of Smith and Partners and to set up an appointment to discuss your employment matter with Carolyn. 

Suzanne Sumner

Ph: 09 837 6840

Email: Suzanne.sumner@smithpartners.co.nz

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(Please note we do not offer no win – no fee payment arrangements)