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Communtity Law Manual | Employment: Resolving problems | Disputes about your employment agreement

Disputes about your employment agreement

Overview

What is a “dispute”?

Employment Relations Act 2000, ss 5, 129

The word “dispute” has a narrow, technical meaning in employment law – it means a dispute about how an employment agreement should apply or operate or how it should be interpreted.

The dispute must be a genuine one that has arisen from an actual, and not hypothetical, situation. For example, your dispute might be about the meaning of a shift allowance clause in your collective employment agreement.

If the dispute involves a collective agreement, the person pursuing the dispute must bring it to the attention of all the unions and employers who are covered by the agreement.

What can I do if there’s a dispute?

If you and your employer have a dispute about an employment agreement and are unable to resolve it between yourselves, a free mediation service is available from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). Contact the MBIE Mediation Service through an online request or phone 0800 20 90 20.

If mediation doesn’t resolve the dispute, you can take a case to the Employment Relations Authority (see “The legal process for dealing with employment problems” in this chapter).

Remedies for a dispute

Employment Relations Act 2000, ss 133–140, 162

If you take a dispute about your employment agreement to the Employment Relations Authority, it can:

  • order your employer to pay you money under the terms of the employment agreement.
  • make a compliance order requiring your employer to perform some duty under the agreement or to comply with some statutory requirement
  • order your employer to pay a penalty for breaching the employment agreement – for an individual the maximum penalty is $10,000 and for a company or other corporate body it’s $20,000. The money is paid into the Crown’s Bank Account, unless the Authority orders it to be paid to you.
  • order your employer to pay you damages (an amount of money) for a breach of the agreement.

(For information about going to the Authority, see “The legal process for dealing with employment problems” in this chapter.)

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