Solv­ing those em­ploy­ment blues

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

The Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Au­thor­ity is an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tory body for em­ploy­ment re­la­tion­ship prob­lems not able to be solved at me­di­a­tion.

To lodge a claim you gen­er­ally must have raised a per­sonal grievance within 90 days of the events giv­ing rise to your claim.

Once raised you have three years to file your claim in the Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Au­thor­ity. You can rep­re­sent your­self or you may be rep­re­sented by a lawyer, friend, ad­vo­cate or union.

You start a claim by fil­ing a State­ment of Prob­lem. The Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Au­thor­ity staff can as­sist with the form. You need to set out what you are claim­ing and why (the facts) and at­tach copies of rel­e­vant doc­u­ments.

You also need to set out what steps you have taken to re­solve the dis­pute (eg me­di­a­tion). The fil­ing fee is cur­rently $71.56.

The Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Au­thor­ity will send a copy of your claim to the other party and give them 14 days to file a re­sponse.

If me­di­a­tion has not been at­tempted, you will usu­ally need to at­tend me­di­a­tion be­fore the claim can pro­ceed fur­ther.

If me­di­a­tion has been at­tempted, the Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Au­thor­ity will hold a phone con­fer­ence with the par­ties to sort out the is­sues to be looked into and as­cer­tain who will need to give ev­i­dence.

The Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Au­thor­ity can di­rect wit­nesses to at­tend and is­sue a sum­mons if nec­es­sary re­quir­ing them to at­tend.

It can also make or­ders for pro­duc­tion of doc­u­ments and in­spec­tion of com­puter records etc.

At the hear­ing you will give your ev­i­dence along with any wit­nesses and pro­duce the doc­u­ments you are re­ly­ing on.

Each wit­ness can be ques­tioned by the au­thor­ity mem­ber and the other party (or their lawyer/ad­vo­cate).

The hear­ing is open to the pub­lic, but the au­thor­ity can pre­vent pub­li­ca­tion of names and per­sonal in­for­ma­tion if nec­es­sary.

The party mak­ing the claim have to prove their case, in­clud­ing any losses suf­fered.

This in­cludes at­tempts to find other em­ploy­ment if you have been dis­missed.

You need to keep a record of the job searches you have made, in­ter­views at­tended and any job of­fers re­ceived.

If you turn down work within a rea­son­able travel time or do not make enough ef­fort to find new em­ploy­ment, you may miss out on lost wages for the time you are out of work.

If the em­ployee proves that they have been dis­missed, the em­ployer has to prove the dis­missal was jus­ti­fied.

The test is whether a fair and rea­son­able em­ployer would have acted as they did.

The au­thor­ity will then make a decision and you will usu­ally get the decision in writ­ing within a few weeks.

The decision will set out the claim, each party’s ar­gu­ments and the decision, plus any reme­dies or­dered. Reme­dies can in­clude money for wages and hol­i­day pay, plus com­pen­sa­tion for hurt and hu­mil­i­a­tion suf­fered and any ex­penses (eg med­i­cal bills).

Le­gal costs can also be awarded. Penal­ties may also be im­posed for se­ri­ous breaches of le­gal re­quire­ments.

Any party can ap­ply to the Em­ploy­ment Court to con­sider the case if they are not sat­is­fied with the out­come.

This must be filed within 28 days of the decision. Any decision of the Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Au­thor­ity or Em­ploy­ment Court can be en­forced in the or­di­nary courts to re­cover the money owing or by get­ting a com­pli­ance or­der.

Col­umn cour­tesy of Rainey Collins Lawyers, phone 0800 733484. If you have a le­gal in­quiry you would like dis­cussed aknowsley @rain­ey­collins.co.nz.

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