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Taking action through a “personal grievance”: Overview

Raising a personal grievance: The process

How do I raise a personal grievance with my employer?

Employment Relations Act 2000, s 114

You do this by making your employer, or a manager or supervisor, aware that you believe you have a personal grievance and that you want the employer to address it. For example, this could be by approaching the employer directly or by writing them a letter.

Although you can raise a grievance verbally, it’s better to raise it in writing by letter or email so that you have a record of all the details. You should give enough details about the problem for the employer to respond to, and keep a copy for yourself.

If you do raise the grievance verbally, it’s helpful to take notes of what you and your employer said, as you can use these notes later at mediation or the hearing.

How much time do I have to raise a personal grievance?

Employment Relations Act 2000, ss 114, 115

You must raise the personal grievance with your employer within 90 days after the action that led to the personal grievance, or within 90 days after you became aware of the action, whichever is later.

You can raise a personal grievance after the 90-day period only if your employer agrees to this or if the Employment Relations Authority allows it. The Authority will only allow this if there are exceptional circumstances and it would be “just” to allow it.

What happens after I raise a personal grievance?

If you’ve raised a personal grievance with your employer and you’re not satisfied with their response, a free mediation service is available to help resolve the problem – this is the Mediation Service run by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE).

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

Employment Relations Act 2000, s 114

Note: If you decide to take action against your employer in the Employment Relations Authority, you must do this within three years after you raise the personal grievance with your employer.

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Resolving employment problems

Where to go for more support

Community Law

www.communitylaw. org.nz

Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice if you’re facing problems at work.

Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment


The Employment Relations website of the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment has a range of information on personal grievances, mediation, the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court. This includes a pamphlet contained information on all those topics, called “Solving Problems at Work”.

Free phone 0800 20 90 20, for general enquiries about resolving employment problems.

Early Resolution Service


The Early Resolution Service is a service offered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment. It is a free phone-based service to help employees and employers resolve workplace issues before it becomes too serious or needs a more formal process.

For more information on the Early Resolution Service, you can fill out the form on www.employment.govt.nz or call 0800 20 90 20.

Labour inspectors

Labour inspectors monitor and enforce minimum employment conditions. To refer a problem to a labour inspector, you contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment on: Free phone 0800 20 90 20

Employment Relations Authority


If you’re unable to settle at mediation, the next step is to file your claim in the Employment Relations Authority. For more information, visit the Authority’s website.

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Te Kauae Kaimahi


Phone: (04) 385 1334
Email: info@nzctu.org.nz

Union members should contact their union for support in resolving problems at work.

Immigration New Zealand


Free phone: 0508 558 855
Phone: (09) 914 4100 (Auckland)
Phone: (04) 910 9915 (Wellington)

The Immigration New Zealand website has extensive information about the various types of visas and other immigration issues. There is also specific information on human trafficking and the help that’s available for people trapped in these situations.

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