Minimise risks from grievances

OPINION: If you have doubts about employment obligations, Gallie Miles Lawyers can help

Gallie Miles Solicitor Darius Shahtahmasebi




The Country

Here are three simple ways of preventing a personal grievance claim: More often than not, we come across a number of employers who have the best intentions at heart, however, have not paid sufficient attention to their obligations under the various employment laws. To assist employers out there in the rural industry, we have put together a list of our top three ways of preventing a personal grievance claim. Should you have any doubts about your employment obligations, Gallie Miles Lawyers are happy to discuss this with you further. Have a signed employment agreement It sounds too simple to be true however, we have come across several employers who have not had a signed employment agreement at the start of an employment relationship. Failure to have a signed employment agreement in place can lead to a penalty of $1000. The absence of a signed agreement also makes managing workplace problems more difficult, as there are no clear terms for the employer to rely on. Seek advice on all legal obligations Unfortunately the Employment Relations Act 2000 is not the only law out there for employers. An employer also has duties under the Holidays Act 2003, the Minimum Wage Act 1983 and, especially on farms where there is accommodation provided to the workers, the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. In these situations, the employer becomes a landlord in addition to being an employer and has other duties under the law to consider. Even when we see employers acting with the best intentions, too often, the result is that employers will be liable for penalties of up to $20,000 (per breach), where they have not considered all relevant laws. Act early It is common practice for employers to react to personal grievances as they happen, and then come to us for legal advice after the action or complaint has already arisen. Unfortunately, lawyers don’t have time machines. If you have identified behavioural problems with an employee, you need to act sooner rather than later before the problem snowballs. It’s also good practice to keep detailed records, investigate complaints fairly and promptly, and have an ongoing consultation process with your employees whenever making decisions that affect their work. Consider the following workplace: Fred lives and works on the farm with his wife, Nicole. Nicole is not an employee of the farm however an argument takes place between Nicole and Grant, a new farm assistant who milks the cows in the morning with Fred. Rather than reacting to the dispute once it’s arisen, an employer could proactively include in its workplace, a process for impartially managing and investigating a complaint and a process to resolve disputes. If you require professional legal advice in respect of your employment obligations, Gallie Miles Lawyers can provide expert employment law advice which is costeffective and designed to minimise disruption to your workplace.