Personal grievances

What is a personal grievance?

Employment Relations Act 2000, Part 9

A “personal grievance” is a legal claim you can bring against your employer if you think they’ve dealt with you illegally or unfairly. You can use the personal grievance process if your employer has dismissed you unfairly or done something else you think is unjustified, such as suspending you, giving you a written warning, or demoting you. A personal grievance is also available on certain other grounds such as discrimination and sexual harassment. (See below, “On what grounds can I bring a personal grievance?”.)

Employment Relations Act 2000, ss 102, 103

There’s a particular process you must follow when you bring a personal grievance. You must first raise the issue with your employer within 90 days. Then, if you’re not satisfied with their response, a free mediation service is available. If mediation doesn’t work, you can take your grievance to the Employment Relations Authority. (See “Raising a personal grievance: The process” in this section.)

Employment Relations Act 2000, s 103(1)

On what grounds can I bring a personal grievance?

The personal grievance process is available only for a specific set of grounds:

  • unjustified dismissal
  • unjustified disadvantage
  • discrimination
  • sexual harassment
  • racial harassment
  • “duress” – that is, pressure from the employer about union membership or union activity
  • a breach of your rights around agreed hours, availability clauses, cancellation of shifts, or restrictions on other (“secondary”) employment
  • retaliation against you because of a health and safety dispute.

These grounds are explained in detail in the following sections.

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