Common Employment Law Traps

The financial and legal responsibilities of running a business can be challenging.  There is a lot to know and navigate to ensure obligations are being met.  This is also the case with managing and looking after staff.   As a legal firm with a specialist employment law team, part of our role at DTI Lawyers is to advise businesses of their employment law obligations.  However, there are common traps we often witness that increase legal risk of a successful personal grievance. 

It is a key requirement of an employment law relationship to act in good faith.  This includes being responsive and communicative with one another and to not act in a way that is misleading or deceptive.  Employers must be able to justify decisions and follow a fair process when an employee’s employment could be negatively impacted.  The following are some of the key mistakes we often see made by employers:

• Predetermining an outcome – an employer cannot make any decisions that could impact an employee’s ongoing employment without first giving the employee an opportunity to be heard.  Care must be made to not use predetermined language in correspondence.

• Not providing all relevant information – good faith obligations require employers to provide employees with all relevant information before the employee can be expected to respond.  This is relevant with disciplinary, restructuring, investigations and performance processes.  Information must be provided in advance of any meetings.

• Rushing a process – it is critical that an employee is provided sufficient time to consider all information being provided to support a proposal or allegations.  Time must be adequate to enable the employee to seek independent advice.  Care must be given to ensure sufficient notice of meetings is also provided.

• Not acting in good faith – this includes having ulterior motives for commencing formal processes or using the incorrect process (i.e. starting a disciplinary process for performance concerns).  Another common mistake is to not raise and address issues as these arise.  Employers have good faith obligations to be raising concerns with employees at the time, rather than waiting until these become insurmountable.

The above traps are but a snapshot of some of the issues we commonly see.  The reality is that employment law relationships, like many relationships, can be full of complexities.  However, provided employment law obligations are being met and some of the common traps can be avoided, employers can significantly decrease their risk of having to incur the time and resources to defend employment law claims.

The specialist employment law team at DTI Lawyers can assist you in relation to all employment matters.   

For any further information on employment law queries, please contact Jaime Lomas:                                    jaime@dtilawyers.co.nz