Personal Grievances

What should I do with a personal grievance?

Should you receive a personal grievance (PG), we strongly recommend you contact us immediately to obtain professional advice BEFORE you take any action.

Why? Because a personal grievance generally goes one of two ways:


The ideal scenario:


The unforeseen scenario:


Even if you believe you have a watertight argument, if you do not follow the prescribed legal process correctly you may end up significantly out of pocket and have an (ex)employee harbouring resentment.

To ensure the best outcome in the case of a personal grievance, please get in touch.

What constitutes a personal grievance?

Any employee or former employee can raise a personal grievance if they believe their employer has acted unfairly or unreasonably towards them.

Under the Employment Relations Act, the grievance must be laid with the employer within 90 days of the alleged mistreatment (be it unfair or unreasonable) occurring or coming to the employee’s attention.

This means that issues can resurface a long time after they occurred.  For example: if you made someone redundant, replaced them with someone else and the redundant person only became aware of it 6-12 months later, they could still file a personal grievance.

Furthermore, with the introduction of the Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Act 2019, you are not only liable for personal grievance claims from your direct employees, you may also be pulled into a grievance involving a Temp - should they cite you as a “controlling third party”.

The grounds for a personal grievance included in the Employment Relations Act and other laws include:

  • Unjustifiable dismissal (unless the dismissal took place while the employee was on a valid 90-day trial period).

  • Unjustifiable action which disadvantages the employee.

  • Discrimination

  • Sexual harassment

  • Adverse treatment due to being affected by family violence.

  • Racial harassment

  • Duress over membership of a union or other employee organisation.

  • An employer’s failure to comply with obligations relating to continuity of employment for employees affected by a business restructure process.

  • Unfair treatment of an employee who has lawfully refused work in certain circumstances.

  • Where an employer engages in adverse conduct for a prohibited health and safety reason in relation to an employee or tries to force or persuade an employee not to perform a function, exercise a power or undertake a role under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

  • Disadvantage to an employee due to the employment agreement not meeting legal requirements for:

    • agreed hours of work
    • availability provisions
    • reasonable notice periods to be given before cancellation of a shift
    • reasonable compensation to be paid if a shift is cancelled
    • secondary employment provisions.
  • Where an employer, or former employer, takes retaliatory action against an employee who has made a protected disclosure of information.

  • Where an employer does not agree to protecting an employee’s employment while the employee is participating in Reserve Forces service or training.

  • Where an employer compels a shop employee to work on Easter Sunday or treats a shop employee adversely because they refuse to work on Easter Sunday.

Need some help?

Dealing with a personal grievance is a minefield best not navigated without specialist HR support.

The law is designed to protect the employee and, as an employer, you must follow the rules to get the best outcome.

That’s where we can help.

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