How to resolve employment disputes: Advice for Employers and Employees

On this page:

4 FAQ’s about employment disputes and employment law


Q1: “What is Employment law? What is its purpose?”

  • The purpose of employment law is to codify and regulate the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers.


Q2: “How do employment disputes commonly arise?”

Employment disputes commonly arise, when the following situations occur:

  • Where the business is being restructured and positions are being made redundant;
  • Where issues emerge that relate to restraint of trade clauses and use of confidential information or intellectual property by employees;
  • When an employee feels bullied, harassed or discriminated against by fellow employees or an employer;
  • When an employer fails to correctly followed disciplinary and performance management processes.

Q3: “Do you help employers or employees or both?”


Q4: “Why should I choose Harris Tate to help with my employment dispute?”

  • Our experience: We’ve had a team of employment lawyers for over a decade and have collective experience of well over 20 years in helping employers and employees with their employment disputes

  • Our team: Oliver Moorcroft and Ella Collis specialise in employment law

  • Our results and reputation: We have a process to guide you. We know all the pitfalls. We’ve helped hundreds of employers and employees with their employment disputes


Employers: How we can help with your employment dispute

We find that usually the best and most cost-effective results are achieved when clients involve Employment law specialists like us at Harris Tate at an early stage of an issue or dispute with an employee:

In this section:


The basics: 3 common mistakes to avoid

  1. If your employment agreement contains a 90 day trial period and you want to rely on it – have you set it up properly?

    • It’s more technical than you think; they can be easily set aside if they are not implemented correctly.

  2. Have you ensured that the contents of your employment agreements are compliant with new employment law legislation?

  3. It’s important to note that in 2016 Employment Law standards and compliance requirements were significantly strengthened.

  4. It’s important not to miss a step. It could cost you.

  5. Do you have a set of processes that are uniformly followed when dealing with employee misconduct and redundancies?


Making employment changes? Process is paramount

In every redundancy and disciplinary situation, it is important that an employer does not act upon decisions that may impact the employee’s employment without:

  1. Putting to the employee the proposed restructure or the allegation of misconduct;

  2. Giving the employee a chance to respond to the proposal or the allegations;

  3. Considering the employees responses and investigating alternatives to the proposal or investigating the misconduct further;

  4. Advising the employee that a decision has been made on the restructure or the allegation of misconduct;

  5. Giving the employee an opportunity to provide feedback on the decision reached about the restructure or the proposed sanction; and

  6. Considering this final feedback and informing the employee of the final decision.

Commonly, personal grievances will be raised by employees where they think their employer has predetermined the outcome of this sort of process or they think that the process has been neglected to be followed entirely.

It is important that employers follow the various procedural steps required of them; that they give the employee time to seek advice on the allegations or proposals that have been put to them by the employer and that the employer considers employee feedback with an open mind.


5 examples of how we can help with your employment issues:

  1. Reviewing your employment agreements to ensure that they comply with legislative requirements, including Employment Relations Act 2000, Holidays Act 2003, Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and other minimum code legislation;

  2. Developing your employment agreements and company policies;

  3. Advising on the hiring and firing of employees;

  4. Guiding you through any required disciplinary or redundancy consultation processes between you and your employees (we can attend your consultation meetings if required);

  5. Assisting you with defending any claims made by your employees against you or your company.


Ready to get started?

Call (07) 578 0059 and ask for either Oliver Moorcroft (Director) or Ella Collis (Solicitor)


Employees: How we can help with your employment dispute

If you think that your employer has breached its responsibilities, get in touch with one of our Employment Law specialists at Harris Tate. We will be able to help you ascertain whether there indeed has been a breach and let you know what you might be entitled to as a consequence of that breach.

In this section:


How to handle your employment dispute

  1. Avoid having an explosive initial reaction

    • We spend a large proportion of our waking hours at work which means that it can be easy feel incensed at your employer and awkward at work when things go wrong but before you threaten raising a personal grievance with your employer, take a moment to assess whether or not there is another way of solving the issue.

  2. Try to see the change as a positive opportunity

  3. Have an open mind when communicating with your employer about the issue, this often involves negotiation, so be clear on what your objectives are and prioritise them.

  4. If you cannot amicably resolve your dispute with your employer through discussion, then your next step is to contact the Employment Law team at Harris Tate and we will help to advise you on your options.


Filing a Personal Grievance? From written notification to mediation

  • It is important to note that you have 90 days from the date to raise grievance with your employer from the date when the problem with the employer happened or came to the employee’s attention or, if you were dismissed, the date of the dismissal.

  • If you do make the difficult decision to raise a grievance, when raising the grievance, you must clearly state the basis of your complaint. So, the first step in the process will be to frame your reasons for wanting to file a personal grievance:

    • Have you been felt like you have been unjustifiably disadvantaged at work?

    • Do you think your dismissal was not justifiable?

    • Do you think your employer is using the ‘redundancy’ of your role as an excuse to edge you out of the business?

  • The grievance must first be raised with the employer, preferably in writing. If you don’t raise the grievance clearly enough, or in enough detail, it may mean that you are unable to take legal action down the track.

  • Participation in mediation is an integral step in resolving a personal grievance. Parties can arrange mediation voluntarily or will be referred to mediation by the Employment Relations Authority if an application is made to it without the parties attempting to resolve the issue through mediation first.

  • For mediation, you will get to choose a representative to accompany you (either a support person or an employment lawyer). Your employer will do the same.

  • Expect the entire process to take a couple of months to lodge and receive reaction to your filing and to go through the mediation process.


What you need to know about Employment Relations Authority (ERA) Hearings

  • If you and your lawyer cannot resolve your grievance at mediation you can take your grievance to the ERA.

  • This process involves a lot of preparatory work and it is often very time consuming and complication. It involves the collation of relevant evidence like, for example, emails, records of conversations, employment agreements, timesheets. It is important that you are very thorough with your evidence gathering.

  • The process itself will involve a case management conference and a lengthy investigation meeting, during which all of the evidence you have collated will be presented.

  • Taking your grievance to the ERA is generally a last resort option; grievances are normally solved at mediation. However, we are prepared to assist you with taking your grievance to the ERA if the matter remains unresolved after mediation.

  • Expect the entire process to take about 6 to 12 months, depending on available hearing time.


Some of the ways in which we can assist with your employment issues:

  1. Meeting with you to discuss your employment issue, advise on whether or not you might have grounds to bring a personal grievance and assist you to negotiate a successful outcome.

  2. Guiding you through the consultation process between you and your employer (we can attend your consultation meetings if required);

  3. Advising on negotiating new work arrangements, or negotiating your exit, a settlement, or redundancy package, if required;

  4. Attending mediation with you;

  5. Assisting you with an ERA hearing.


Ready to get started?

Call (07) 578 0059 and ask for either Oliver Moorcroft (Director), or Ella Collis (Solicitor)