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Taking action through a “personal grievance”: Overview

What you could get: Remedies for a personal grievance

Employment Relations Act 2000, s 123

If you take a personal grievance to the Employment Relations Authority you can ask the Authority to take one or more of the types of action described below. For information about going to the Authority, see “The legal process for dealing with employment problems” in this chapter.

Reinstatement: Getting your job back

Employment Relations Act 2000, ss 123, 125–127

The Employment Relations Authority can order your employer to put you back in your previous position or in a position that’s at least as good.

If you’ve asked the Authority to give you your job back, they must order this if it’s reasonable to do this – whether or not they also make some other order like compensation for emotional stress.

If you take a case to the Authority, they can also order your boss to reinstate you temporarily (called “interim reinstatement”) until it decides your case.

Reimbursement: Getting back lost wages or money

Employment Relations Act 2000, ss 123, 124, 128

If the Employment Relations Authority decides you’ve lost wages or other money as a result of what your employer did, the Authority must order the employer to reimburse you for this, up to a maximum of three months’ ordinary time wages, although the Authority has a discretion to award you more. The amount that you would otherwise be awarded can be reduced if they decide that you contributed to what happened.

Compensation for emotional stress and other effects

Employment Relations Act 2000, s 123

The Employment Relations Authority can order your employer to pay you compensation for:

  • the way in which you’ve been affected personally, such as humiliation, loss of dignity, or injury to feelings
  • the loss of any benefits that you might otherwise have expected to get.

Recommendations for the employer to change their practices or take other action

Employment Relations Act 2000, s 123

Whatever the basis (or “ground”) for your personal grievance, if workplace conduct or practices were a significant factor the Authority can make recommendations to your employer about what should be done to prevent similar problems happening.

If you’ve suffered sexual or racial harassment, the Employment Relations Authority can make recommendations to your employer on what to do about the harasser. This may include transferring them, taking disciplinary action, or taking rehabilitative action to prevent them harassing again. See “Unfair treatment, discrimination or harassment at work” in this chapter.

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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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