Employment Issues

Pre-employment, Senior Management Recruitment

Once you have found key potential candidates, we can assist you with your senior management recruitment process, in terms of helping run interviews, asking the telling questions and evaluating candidates to find the right fit for your organisation.

We can also discuss appropriate restraint clauses and areas of negotiation appropriate for the role and proprietary access.

We have contacts to those who do psychometric testing and specialised organisational development work.

Employment Agreements

By law every employee must have a written employment agreement. We can help you tailor your employment agreements or review, edit and update one you have prepared to ensure it complies with the current employment laws, is appropriate for the role and is relevant to your industry.

Holidays, Sick & Bereavement Leave

These areas can cause a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding for employers trying to navigate. We can work with you to clarify how the laws apply to your particular situation or issue.

Policies & Procedures

We can draft new policies, tailored to meet your specific business requirements or update the ones you currently have.

Employment Relationships

Your employee says they are going on “stress leave” and you wonder if it’s incompatibility or whether its medical incapacity. Can I dismiss under a trial period? These are all common scenarios on the surface, however no two situations are ever the same. We can help you assess the circumstnaces of what you are dealing with and develop some options for what to do next.

Performance Management & Improvement

We can advise you how to approach performance management and improvement within the employment relationship. We will work through the process with you to achieve a turnaround. If this is not possible then we can work through a parting of the ways.

Workplace Investigations

Sometimes problems arise between employees or complaints are received from the public about a member of your staff. To ensure you meet your employer obligations the situation may need to be formally investigated to establish the facts. Read our article on Workplace Bullying

Investigations are notoriously tricky because they can be emotive situations with high stakes for all involved. Legal challenges around investigations, or action taken as a result of their findings are common. It is crucial that investigations be conducted using demonstrably fair techniques and procedures. Having an independent person as the investigator can give an employer objectivity and perspective.

Appointing an Investigator

If it is a relatively straightforward investigation you may just want some assistance or guidance with conducting an internal investigation. In this instance we can guide you remotely through the process or support you directly in meetings.

Alternatively, you may feel that you need someone from outside the organisation to carry out the investigation, who can then provide you with a report to be able to decide what to do from there.

If you think an objective independent investigator is required, then that person should ideally be someone who understands employment law and who is regarded as suitably qualified.  For that reason, employment lawyers are often appointed to carry out workplace investigations.

The benefits of retaining a specialist employment lawyer in these situations is their knowledge of complex employment relationship issues and applicable employment law.

Also with an instructed employment lawyer, who is investigating an internal HR issue and providing legal analysis, advice and recommendations, their draft reports, notes and your communications with them would be subject to solicitor-client privilege and protected from disclosure to a third-party.

We also have a network of other investigators that we can utilise should the need arise.

Navigating the Disciplinary Process

Running a fair and reasonable process is key when there are allegations or suspicions of misconduct. We can advise you on how to work through the process, to ensure you are meeting your employer obligations and support you as the decision maker.

We can assist you to gather your thoughts and clarify what the conduct issue is that you have with your employee, how it is impacting on the employment relationship and how that conduct can be addressed through a formal process.
We can draft letters relating to the process and guide you to run disciplinary meetings, give warnings, and dismiss.

Dignified Exits, Moving Staff on

The employment relationship is, as the name states, a relationship. We all aspire to have harmonious relationships. However, the reality is that employees do not all have the same values, beliefs, experiences or upbringing. We each bring our own special brand in to the melting pot workplace environment. Some people are more resilient than others and process interactions or events at work differently. Therefore, the majority of the time it can come down to luck and possibly whether the stars are aligned to determine if you are going to achieve harmony on a daily basis.

When the stars are not in alignment the most sensible way forward may be for a mutual parting of the ways. We can work to facilitate dignified exits from businesses and allow the parties to move forward amicably.

Restructures, Redundancies and Change Management

Industries and the nature of your operations often evolve and change over time, which means that roles within an organisation expand, shrink or disappear. Employers are entitled to run their business in the most effective and efficient manner they choose and even sell their business or part of it. However as an employee’s employment is likely to be affected by significant change, we can assist with working through what to do in such circumstances from a business and ER perspective.

We can help with writing consultation documents, letters to staff; attending consultation meetings; implementing change and management of redundant employees.

Personal Grievances & Employment Relationship Problems

You may receive a communication from one of your employees that they are raising a personal grievance. There are critical legal requirements to meet once a personal grievance is raised, which we can assist you to comply with.

You can instruct us to conduct negotiations on your behalf or you may only want us to provide strategic back-up and letter-writing support for you.

Each case will turn on its own facts and merits, which need to be established and assessed to be able to give you advice about your options.

Mediation

The Ministry of Business Employment and Innovation (formerly Department of Labour) provides a Mediation Service for employers and employees to attempt to resolve their employment relationship problems.

It is a highly effective and confidential forum, where the parties can speak openly, hopefully achieving some kind of way forward. Sometimes resolution might be by mutual parting of the ways or a frank discussion on how to get the relationship back on track.

We can represent you at mediation and guide you through getting the most out of the mediation process.

[Click here for link to mediation services online application.]

Employment Relations Authority, Employment Court and Appeals Court representation

We accept instructions to appear before all of these Court of Appeal bodies.

Health and Safety – Prevention, Post-Incident, Prosecution

Health and safety must be at the forefront of an employer’s mind. The “she’ll be right attitude or it won’t happen here” could cost lives. An employee killed on the job is something an employer will have to live with for the rest of their life. It will probably also more than likely end up costing the employer money in fines, reparations to victims and legal costs. It may also result in loss of business and reputational damage.

The goal for employers is of course to eliminate risk but this will not always be possible, so then you drop down to isolation, minimisation, training and PPE. We can work though with you to ensure you are implementing the best policies for your business, to mitigate the risk.

If you are meeting your employer obligations and have the evidence to prove that you are meeting your employer obligations this will reduce your risk.

Prevention: We can assist you to develop or maintain health and safety policies that comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and assist your business, Board and its officers to mitigate their level of risk.

Post incident: If, despite your best efforts, there is an incident it is advisable to get legal advice very early on. We can help you work with Worksafe through the initial stages, making sure Worksafe are presented with good clear information. The information you provide will determine if Worksafe decide to prosecute or not.

Work safe Prosecution: In the event of a prosecution by Worksafe we can work through the process of defending the prosecution or entering a plea.

Official Information Act, LGOIMA, Ombudsman, Privacy and Human Rights Act issues

Other pieces of legislation in New Zealand can offer challenges for employers to deal with.

Again it is critical to get sound advice and assistance on how to work through these types of issues in the employment context.

Collective Bargaining

We have acted as bargaining agents for a number employer clients in collective bargaining negotiations right from fresh fields situations and initiation of bargaining to renegotiation of existing collectives. We can provide guidance as you navigate through the bargaining process and dealing with unions.

Board Governance and Compliance

We support organisations to deliver on their governance obligations within the employment jurisdiction. We can work with your Board Members and CEOs to identify and assess key governance and compliance risks, and assist in mitigating those risks:

We can provide compliance training for boards, committees and responsible managers.

Board / CEO Disputes

Occasionally the Board and its Chief Officer or General Manager may not align to the same way forward for the organisation. There is usually significant reputational and financial risk on both sides. We can assist in trying to resolve such disputes for the parties.

Management Training and Development

Instead of the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff we also enjoy being at the top of the cliff too, empowering managers and employers to be more effective in managing their people in compliance with the law and the what is in the best interests of the parties.

We can tailor a particular area of training that provides useful and practical information.

Senior Executive Mentoring and Support.

Maybe you have an employee that is newly appointed to a Senior Executive role who is now acting primarily on behalf of the Company. That person may not have had the necessary training in employment relations and law to hit the ground running. They need some specific guidance in their role to ensure they are not opening up the organisation to liability. You want them to succeed for themselves and for the business. You do not want them to feel isolated. You want them to have the skills to be able to deal with matters in a manner that complies with our employment laws and mitigates risk.

This mentoring support may come in the form of pre-emptive one on one training or possibly a contact person that they have a relationship with and can call for advice to double check they are on the right path.

Civil Litigation

  • Commercial and shareholder disputes
  • Trust litigation
  • Property disputes, including lease arbitrations
  • Debt recovery and insolvency
  • Insurance claims
  • Construction Contacts Act dispute resolution

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Contact

Level 1, 39 Tennyson Street
PO Box 58
Napier 4140
New Zealand

Office: +64 (0)6 651 1600

info@brownandbates.nz