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  • Employment Relations Authority
  • Lawyers and representatives

The Employment Relations Authority is established by the Employment Relations Act 2000. Section 157 of that Act sets out the role of the Authority:

(1)       The Authority is an investigative body that has the role of resolving employment relationship problems by establishing the facts and making a determination according to the substantial merits of the case, without regard to technicalities.

[…]

Section 5 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 defines an “employment relationship problem” as follows:

employment relationship problem includes a personal grievance, a dispute, and any other problem relating to or arising out of an employment relationship, but does not include any problem with the fixing of new terms and conditions of employment

So problems could arise in circumstances that include where employees believe they were unjustifiably dismissed or affected by redundancies or restructuring, unjustifiably disadvantaged in some way such as by a warning or demotion, harassed or discriminated against.

Of course, for there to be an ‘employment relationship problem’ there must first be an ‘employment relationship’, and in that regard the definition of “employee” at section 6 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 is relevant.

Section 103 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 explains what a “personal grievance” is:

(1)       For the purposes of this Act, personal grievance means any grievance that an employee may have against the employee’s employer or former employer because of a claim –

(a)       that the employee has been unjustifiably dismissed; or

(b)       that the employee’s employment, or 1 or more conditions of the employee’s employment (including any condition that survives termination of the employment), is or are or was (during employment that has since been terminated) affected to the employee’s disadvantage by some unjustifiable action by the employer; or

(c)        that the employee has been discriminated against in the employee’s employment; or

(d)       that the employee has been sexually harassed in the employee’s employment; or

(e)        that the employee has been racially harassed in the employee’s employment; or

(f)        that the employee has been subject to duress in the employee’s employment in relation to membership or non-membership of a union or employees organisation; or

(g)       that the employee’s employer has failed to comply with a requirement of Part 6A; or

[…]

(3)       In subsection (1)(b), unjustifiable action by the employer does not include an action deriving solely from the interpretation, application, or operation, or disputed interpretation, application, or operation, of any provision of any employment agreement.

Lawyers and representatives

You may engage a lawyer or other representative to advise you, help you to raise an employment relationship problem, assist you through the resolution process and advocate your position.

Section 236 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 provides:

(1)       Where any Act to which this section applies confers on any employee the right to do anything or take any action –

(a)       in respect of an employer; or

(b)       in the Authority or the court, –

that employee may choose any other person to represent the employee for the purpose.

(2)       Where any Act to which this section applies confers on an employer the right to do anything or take any action –

(a)       in respect of an employee; or

(b)       in the Authority or the court, –

that employer may choose any other person to represent that employer for the purpose.

(3)       Any person purporting to represent any employee or employer must establish that person’s authority for that representation.

(4)       The Acts to which this section applies are –

(a)       this Act:

(b)       the Accident Compensation Act 2001:

(c)        the Equal Pay Act 1972:

(d)       the Holidays Act 2003:

(e)        the Human Rights Act 1993:

(f)        the Minimum Wage Act 1983:

(g)       the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987:

(h)       the Policing Act 2008:

(i)        the State Sector Act 1988:

(j)        the Wages Protection Act 1983.