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

In employment law, the word “dispute” has a narrow, technical meaning: 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.

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 you, a free mediation service is available. 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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