How do I Avoid or Manage Personal Grievances?
Assess your Workplace Systems and Climate
What is a Personal Grievance?
The Employment Relations Act 2000 gives all employees the right to pursue a personal grievance if they think they have been:
- Unjustifiably dismissed
- Disadvantaged by an unjustifiable action by their employer
- Discriminated against
- Sexually or racially harassed at work
- Subjected to duress because of their membership or non-membership of a union.
Employees must raise their personal grievance with the employer within 90 days of the action complained of, or the date they became aware of it.
How do I Prevent Personal Grievances?
Prevention is better than cure! Make sure you:
- Have adequate policies and procedures in place
- Ensure that managers and staff are aware of their rights and obligations
- Train managers to effectively resolve these situations as they occur
- Have adequate and trained support people in place
How do I Resolve Personal Grievances?
- Ensure you follow your policies and procedures - know what you can and can't do.
- Do not try and short cut the process.
- Keep up to date with internal changes to procedures.
- Also, have knowledge about Employment Relation matters and principles of natural justice and good faith.
- Use a consultative/facilitative approach with staff.
What Happens if the Grievance cannot be Resolved by the Employer?
If the problem cannot be resolved between the employer and employee, then either party may take their case to the Employment Relations Authority.
In circumstances surrounding discrimination and sexual/racial harassment, as defined in the Human Rights Act 1993, a complaint may be made to the Human Rights Commission. (In such instances the complainant must choose one avenue of procedure, not both.)
Remedies for Personal GrievanceAn employee with a grievance claim may ask the employer for any remedy the employee thinks appropriate. If the grievance goes to the Employment Relations Authority, the following types of remedy can be asked for:
- Reinstatement: The Authority may order that the employee be put back in their job.
- Interim reinstatement: The Authority may order that the employee be reinstated until the personal grievance is heard.
- Reimbursement: Where the Authority finds the employer at fault, it can order the employer to pay all or part of lost wages or other money, and may award more.
- Compensation: The Authority may order the Principal to pay money to the employee for:
- any effects on the employee personally, such as humiliation, loss of dignity or injury to his or her feelings.
- The loss of any benefit which the employee might reasonably have expected if the grievance had not arisen.
- Recommendations in cases of sexual or racial harassment: The authority may make recommendations to the Principal about how best to manage/prevent these situations.
- Contributory fault: The Authority must reduce the remedies if the employee is found to be partly at fault in a grievance case.
3 Year Limitation
Employees may not start a personal grievance action in the Employment Relations Authority or the Employment Court more than 3 years after they have raised it with the employer.
Going to The Employment Court
Anyone who is unhappy with the Authority?s determination can take the problem to the Employment Court for a full judicial hearing.
When a case needs to be heard by the court, it is strongly recommended that the parties use outside expertise. Neither the application nor the hearing procedures are straightforward.
Unless the party is confident and familiar with the workings of employment agreements, legislation and legal procedures, the use of a lawyer, a union official or other person skilled in advocacy and acquainted with Court procedures should be considered.
NOTE: Parties should contact the Court only when about to apply or to check the progress of a case.
Get in Touch with Jump
If you need help, or you answered no or unsure to any of the questions in the assessment tool, then Jump Business Solutions can help you. Phone us on +64 6 754 8987 or +64 27 450 5271 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and Jump will come to you, discover your needs, and develop a solution that will create real, long-term and positive change for you and your business.
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