Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu Specialist and Support Staff Collective Agreement
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Part 9: Disputes and Personal Grievances
Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu Specialist and Support Staff Collective Agreement:
Effective from 1 December 2022 to 1 December 2024
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9.1 Employment Relationship Problems
An employment relationship problem is a problem between employee and employer. For example, it might be a personal grievance or a dispute about the interpretation, application, or operation of a provision in an employment agreement.
9.2 Resolving an Employment Relationship Problem
The employee and employer should first make a reasonable effort to discuss the problem and settle it by mutual agreement. (If it’s a personal grievance, it must first be raised with the employer and within 90 days, or within 12 months if it about sexual harassment, - Personal Grievances are explained further below).
An employee (or employer) has the right to be represented at any stage. When a problem arises, union members should contact their local NZEI Te Riu Roa field officer for advice and representation.
9.3 Personal Grievances
A personal grievance is a particular type of employment relationship problem that normally must be raised with the employer within 90 days of the grievance arising. In the case of personal grievances for sexual harassment, this must be raised within 12 months of the date that the act is alleged to have taken place or when the act came to the notice of the employee (whichever is later).
An employee may have a personal grievance where:
- They have been dismissed without good reason, or the dismissal was not carried out properly
- They have been treated unfairly
- Their employment or a condition of their employment has been affected to their disadvantage by an unjustified action of their employer.
- They have experienced sexual or racial harassment, or have been discriminated against because of their involvement in a union or other employee organisation, or have suffered duress over membership or non-membership of a union or other employee organisation.
- They have been discriminated against in terms of the prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Human Rights Act 1993(external link).
Note: The full meaning of the terms personal grievance, discrimination, sexual harassment, racial harassment, and duress, shall be the meaning given by sections 103 to 110 inclusive of the Employment Relations Act 2000(external link) only.
As with other employment relationship problems, the parties should always try to resolve a personal grievance through discussion.
Either party can refer a personal grievance to the Employment Relations Service of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for mediation assistance, or to the Employment Relations Authority.
If the problem relates to a type of discrimination that can be the subject of a complaint to the Human Rights Commission under the Human Rights Act 1993, the person can either take a personal grievance, or complain to the Human Rights Commission, but not both. If in doubt, advice should be sought before deciding.
9.4 Employment Relations Services Available
To help resolve employment relationship problems, the Department of Labour provides:
An information service
This is free. It is available by contacting the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment or by phoning toll free 0800 20 90 20. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Employment NZ internet address is https://www.employment.govt.nz/about/contact-us/ and can be contacted by e-mail at https://www.employment.govt.nz/about/email-us/.
The Mediation Service
The Mediation Service is a free and independent service available through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
This service helps to resolve employment relationship problems and generally to promote the smooth conduct of employment relationships.
Mediation is a mutual problem solving process, with the aim of reaching an agreement, assisted by an independent third party.
If the parties can’t reach a settlement they can ask the mediator, in writing, to make a final and binding decision.
A settlement reached through mediation and signed by the mediator at the request of the parties is final, binding and enforceable. Neither party can then take the matter any further and, either party can be made to comply with the agreed settlement by court order.
If the problem is unresolved through mediation either party may apply to have the matter dealt with by the Employment Relations Authority.
The Employment Relations Authority
This Authority is an investigative body that operates in an informal way. It looks into the facts and makes a decision on the merits of the case and not on the legal technicalities.
Either an employer or an employee can refer an unresolved employment relationship problem to the Authority by filing the appropriate forms.
The Authority may call evidence, hold investigative meetings, or interview anyone involved. It can direct the parties to try mediation. If mediation is unsuitable or has not resolved the problem, the Authority will make a decision that is binding on all parties. Any party can contest the Authority’s decision through the Employment Court.
Note: All employment relationship problems, including personal grievances and any disputes about the interpretation or application of this agreement, must be resolved under Parts 9 and 10 of the Employment Relations Act 2000(external link).