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Government support for Personal Grievances

Published 15 Aug 2019

Employers are generally aware that an employee can raise a personal grievance at any point during or after the employment relationship. They are supposed to raise the matter within a 90 day period following the respective event occurring, but if they can give a good reason this too can be waived, and once they have raised the matter they can leave any further action for up to 3 years later and the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) will still look at it if required.

Employees generally know it's free to do this, and there are also many employee advocates who are happy to work on a 'no-win no-fee' basis if they need help. The majority of a win will be tax-free and if the claim is settled prior to the ERA no future employers will ever find out.

What employers might not know is that the Government actually provides a large amount of support and guidance for employees though their phone support and on their website for raising grievances at every level; with the Employer, with Mediation Services, and also directly with the ERA. Support even to the extent of providing sample letters to use against the Employer.

There are obligations placed on the employee when such an alleged personal grievance occurs. They must make the employer aware of the grievance, preferably in writing, clearly stating the reason for the grievance and explaining in enough details to allow the employer to address the grievance correctly. They should also request and/or indicate the desired way in which they wish to proceed with the grievance and the desired recourse they seek.

However the absence of any part of the above does not negate their claim in any way but simply extends the time and costs for the employer to establish the nature of the allegation. Although with the Government providing templates to raise a grievance the letters are usually pretty comprehensive.

This of course flies in the face of the obligations placed on the Employer whereby if any part of the disciplinary process, including the letters used, is missing or inaccurate the personal grievance claim is usually a successful one for the employee.

As a business employing staff we are often told that ignorance of the law is no excuse, and Employment Law is no exception. The burden and costs placed on employers are ever increasing and a successful personal grievances can vastly negatively affect the running of a successful and profitable business.

Our services and online resources are here to offer your business protection in this largely disparate playing field of laws and compliance. It is essential you use them particularly around anything to do with discipline or dismissal and preferably prior to taking any punitive action.