FAQ

About Us

What’s no win no fee?

No Win No Fee literally means if we don’t win you don’t pay a fee. When you have lost your job or are faced with the prospect of losing your job because of a situation that has arisen with your employer it’s the least likely time you will be able to afford a lawyer.

If there are occasions that we will charge you an hourly rate we will let you know.  For example, If we need to attend your disciplinary meeting if you are wanting to save your job we do charge a meeting fee of $250+gst per hour.

No Win No Fee is not Free

If we accept your case on a no win no fee basis, and if we are successful in winning you a financial outcome there will be fees payable, either by your employer or by yourself as a percentage of the settlement.

 

What happens if you lose a no win no fee case?

If you lose you will not have to pay a fee. Because we don’t get paid for our time and efforts if we don’t win we don’t take on a case if we don’t think it will be successful.

Are you employment lawyers?

All our Employment Advocates are Employment Law specialists. Some have Law Degrees and some come from an HR background.  All are experts in Employment Law.

What is an employment advocate?

An Employment Advocate is like an Employment Lawyer.

We are legal and human resources experts who know employment law like the back of our hands.

We can defend you in your workplace and all the way to the employment court if necessary.

Employment Advocates either hold law degrees or HR qualifications.  Our Advocates are ALL specialists in Employment Law.  We are fully equipped to help with any Employment Relationship Problem you are facing.

Are you funded?

No we are not funded  

We are careful what cases we do which is why we give a free consultation over the phone as our first point of contact.  We carefully consider the facts before we agree to take your case on a no win no fee basis.  Sometimes we need to charge an hourly rate but we always let you know straight away whether it is no-win-no-fee or hourly rate so there won’t be any surprises.  Most of the time we can get your employer to contribute to your costs, and what we can’t get your employer to cover we take as a percentage of what we win for you. More details on our fees page.

Bullying

Am I being bullied?

A lot of behaviour by our boss or colleagues may feel like bullying.  A lot of this “bullying” could also be described as unpleasant behaviour, this can cause a lot of stress and even anxiety but it might not be bullying.

Bullying is:

  • Repeated
  • Unreasonable, including: humiliating, intimidating or threatening a person
  • Harassment, discrimination or violence

Bullying is not:

  • Occasional rudeness or one off incidents of unreasonable behaviour
  • High performance standards
  • Constructive feedback or advice
  • Requests for extra work to be done\Warning or disciplining workers according to the code of conduct
  • An argument or difference of opinion (as long as it doesn’t become aggressive)

 

What do i do if i am being bullied at work?

You should find out if there are any workplace policies or processes for reporting bullying and follow these. There may be specific and trained people in your workplace who know how to deal with these issues in a sensitive way.

If there is no set process or procedure you should do the following:

Make a note every time something happens. Notes should record dates and times, and what was said or done, who was there, and how it made you feel.

You will then need to make your employer aware of the situation
Ideally you would raise the issue in writing.

Who do I raise it with?
It depends on who is bullying you. If it is another employee, you should first raise the matter with your manager or supervisor, or the next level of management if the offender is your manager.

If the person who is bullying you is the Owner of the company, or the manager and there is nobody else to tell you can call us on 0800NOWINNOFEE and we will advise you or assist you.

What should happen after I report that I am being bullied?

After receiving your complaint the business should:

  • Support you and the person you have complained about
  • Decide on a plan for investigation, including possibly suspending the person who is being investigated
  • Give guidance on how to continue to work with the person
  • Report back to you about the steps that have been taken

I reported the bullying and now things are much worse! What do I do now?

Sadly this is what sometimes happens.  You have done the right thing by reporting the issues because that makes it easier for us to help you.  Give us a call as soon as possible and tell us what’s happening and we will try to help.

No Win No Fee

Is No Win No Fee a con?

No, No Win No Fee is not a con.  Some employment lawyers speak badly of employment law advocates.  As in most industries, some employment advocates are cowboys and opportunists. Some are unprofessional and can harm your case by being too arrogant or aggressive.  It is important to shop around, read reviews and look for recommendations.  We are in direct competition with employment lawyers.  Employment lawyers want you to use them because they charge an hourly rate, which can really add up. Employment lawyers say it’s unethical to charge a percentage of a settlement. A New Zealand employment lawyer who holds a current practising certificate is prohibited from charging a percentage.  As with employment lawyers, our Advocates are qualified to practise employment law, many holding law degrees and HR qualifications. Wherever possible, we have your employer contribute to the costs. More often than not, we get our entire fees paid by your employer, so we don’t take a percentage of your win at all.

What do I do if I have been fired?

  1. Contact Us When you email us you will receive a confirmation email. Reply to that email with a full timeline of events, and attach any letters you have received from your employer.
  2. If you have just been fired or dismissed and you have no secured future income there are a few steps that you should take immediately to reduce your stress both financially and emotionally. If you have no money in the bank, ring the bank and stop all automatic payments, if there is no money in the bank you could incur fees.
  3. Contact the people that these payments go to and explain your situation.
  4. Contact your landlord and explain your situation.
  5. Book an appointment with your doctor if you are extremely distressed or have any symptoms such as; Difficulty sleeping, anxiety, depression, panic attacks etc…Please get a letter from your doctor explaining what you have visited him for, this will be added to your case file and will become part of your stress and distress claim.
  6. Contact Work and Income NZ, the sooner that you register for unemployment benefit, the sooner you will be eligible for payment. If we achieve compensation we will usually settle under a tax-free and tax-exempt section of the act, this will not, in this case, have any effect on your benefit.
  7. Cancel any unnecessary luxuries that will get you further into debt.
  8. Keep any and all evidence of attempts to look for work, loss of earnings can only be claimed (Unless you are unwell) if you have been actively looking for work.
  9. Contact friends or family for support to help get you through.
  10. Exercise even if you don’t feel like it, it will make you feel better and help you think clearly.

Are no win no fee lawyers good?

Employment Lawyers usually charge an hourly rate, so they get paid whether they are successful or not. You can be sure Employment Advocates who offer their services as no win no fee will be putting in the work to ensure your case is a success because their fee only gets paid if they are successful.

What’s no win no fee?

No Win No Fee literally means if we don’t win you don’t pay a fee. When you have lost your job or are faced with the prospect of losing your job because of a situation that has arisen with your employer it’s the least likely time you will be able to afford a lawyer.

If there are occasions that we will charge you an hourly rate we will let you know.  For example, If we need to attend your disciplinary meeting if you are wanting to save your job we do charge a meeting fee of $250+gst per hour.

No Win No Fee is not Free

If we accept your case on a no win no fee basis, and if we are successful in winning you a financial outcome there will be fees payable, either by your employer or by yourself as a percentage of the settlement.

 

What happens if you lose a no win no fee case?

If you lose you will not have to pay a fee. Because we don’t get paid for our time and efforts if we don’t win we don’t take on a case if we don’t think it will be successful.

Personal Grievance

What is a personal grievance?

A personal grievance is when an employee brings a formal complaint against their current or former employer.  An employee has 90 days to raise a personal grievance.
To raise a personal grievance after the 90 days there would need to be exceptional circumstances.

What qualifies as a grievance?

Employees can bring a personal grievance for the following complaints:

  • Unjustifiable dismissal (unless the dismissal took place while the employee was on a valid 90 day trial period)
  • Discrimination
  • Sexual harassment
  • Age discrimination
  • Racial harassment
  • Constructive Dismissal or Forced Resignation
  • Bullying where the employee has raised the issue and not received a response or adequate action
  • Restructuring causing redundancy without correct process
  • 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.
  • Unfair treatment of an employee who has lawfully refused work
  • Where an employer forces or persuades an employee not to perform a function, exercise a power or undertake a role under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
  • 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.

How do I raise a personal grievance?

If possible you should first discuss the problem with your employer.  Your employer should be aware there is an issue and be given an opportunity to fix it.  You should communicate the issue in writing and ask for a response within a set time frame, eg 3 days.

You should clearly describe the issues and the events that have led to the problem.  You should provide details and names and dates of who was present when there was a problem.  Email the letter to your employer and keep a copy.

If the employer is unwilling or unable to resolve the issue you can request a mediation. It’s helpful to seek legal advice from an employment lawyer or employment advocate at this stage.

90 day trial period

What’s the difference between a trial period and a probationary period?

There are big differences between a trial period and a probationary period.  The most important difference is that an employee cannot be dismissed for no reason when on a probation period.

Is the 90 day trial period still valid in NZ?

Yes, but only businesses with 19 employees or less can use the trial period.

Can you extend a trial period?

No, you cannot extend a trial period beyond what was stated in your employment contract.

Does the first 90 days include weekends?

Yes if your trial is for 90 days weekend days are counted as part of the 90 days.

If your trial is for 90 days you can find out your end date using this calculator:

What is a 90 day trial period?

A 90 day trial period is a clause an employer may put in your employment contract which, when used correctly, enables the employer to take on a new employee on a trial basis for a period of 90 days.  If, for any reason, the employment relationship does not work out within the first 90 days the employer may end the employment relationship without the risk of the employee raising a personal grievance.

Watch our simple explainer video on ‘What is a 90 Day Trial’

I have been dismissed with no notice on my trial period, is that fair?

There should be a clause in your employment agreement which states how much notice you will be given if you are dismissed during your trial. In general this means that if the employer wants you to leave straight away (rather than working through your notice period), then they must pay you for the notice period.

The notice period for your trial period can be different from the notice period once you are finished the trial period, as long as the notice period for the trial is specified in the employment agreement. If the notice is not specified for the trial then your employer should adhere to the notice period in the employment contract.

If you are confused about your notice period, or have been dismissed on the spot without any notice you can call us free to find out if there is a case for unfair dismissal.

What are the employment law rules for a 90 day trial period?

If the 90 day trial clause is not used correctly, an employer may be shocked to find out that the employee can still raise a personal grievance or claim unfair dismissal despite the 90 day trial clause being present in the employment contract.

A trial period can be less than 90 days
We refer to the 90 day trial clause, but the number of days can be less than 90 days, and the exact number of days must be specified on the employment agreement.

The 90 day trial clause may be invalid if:

  • You were not informed in writing that your employment contract contained a 90 day trial period before you started work. Or if you signed the employment agreement after you had already started work (even by a few hours)
  • You have previously worked for the employer
  • Your employer has more than 20 employees
  • You were not advised that you had the right to seek independent legal advice or given time to seek advice before signing the contract

The clause didn’t include the correct wording of the Employment Relations Act 2000 Section 67A :

67A When employment agreement may contain a provision for a trial period for 90 days or less

(1) An employment agreement containing a trial provision may be entered into by a small-to-medium-sized employer and an employee who has not previously been employed by the small-to-medium-sized employer.

(2) For the purposes of this section and section 67B,—

small-to-medium-sized employer means an employer who employs fewer than 20 employees at the beginning of the day on which the employment agreement is entered into trial provision means a written provision in an employment agreement that states, or is to the effect, that—

(a) for a specified period (not exceeding 90 days), starting at the beginning of the employee’s employment, the employee is to serve a trial period; and
(b) during that period, the small-to-medium-sized employer may dismiss the employee; and
(c) if the small-to-medium-sized employer does so, the employee is not entitled to bring a personal grievance or other legal proceedings in respect of the dismissal.
Section 67A: replaced, on 6 May 2019, by section 36 of the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 (2018 No 53).

How much notice do I have to give if I leave my job during my 90 day trial?

Every employment agreement requires that the parties give each other notice to end the relationship.

The notice you give should be the same as the notice that your employer would have to give you according to the trial period clause in your agreement. As the employee you also should act in good faith.  If you are unhappy in your new job we would encourage you to have a conversation with your employer.  If you leave without giving the notice period that is set out in your employment agreement the employer may deduct wages in lieu of notice. In the event that the employer suffers a financial loss as a result of you failing to give notice the employer may take action in the Employment Relations Authority to recover those losses and to seek a penalty.    If you find yourself in the position of wanting to leave and are unable or unwilling to give notice you should seek legal advice from an employment lawyer or advocate.   It’s free to call us to discuss your situation with us.

Exit Package

What is an exit package?

An exit package is when both the employer and employee come to a mutual agreement for the employment agreement to come to an end quickly and without a lot of delay or expense.

Typically, an exit package will contain some type of financial benefit for the employee, sometimes including a reference.

We can assist with ensuring the process is dealt with on a professional level and the agreed terms will be recorded in a record of settlement.

What does an exit package cost?

The cost of an exit package will depend on the length of time it takes to reach the final decision between employee and employer.

We can usually get your fees paid for by the employer, this is part of the negotiation process.

Redundancy

What does redundancy mean?

To be made redundant from your job position means that your position is no longer needed in the company. Redundancy is a type of dismissal. This may be due to a company re-structure or shifts in the economy or job industry.

 

What am I entitled to?

Throughout the redundancy process as an employee, you are entitled to seek legal advice, negotiate and provide feedback to the employer.

It is important that you have read and fully understood your employment agreement. Your notice period will be outlined in this agreement along with information regarding final pays. Generally, an employee will be paid our their annual leave once the redundancy has been finalised.

What is the redundancy process?

Your employer must notify you in writing that your position may be up for redundancy. You should be supplied with a letter/notice of redundancy that asks you to attend a meeting with your employer.

The employer must explain the situation to you and give you adequate time to process the news, seek legal advice and provide feedback. Feedback can be where the employee offers a reduction in hours, pay or other factors of your role. Although this may not save your job, it is a good chance to negotiate your redundancy in the case these offers change anything on the employers’ end.

Once you (the employee) has had the opportunity to provide feedback and seek legal advice the decision now sits with the employer. You will receive confirmation of your redundancy and you will start working out your notice period (check your employment agreement).

Dismissal

What do you do if you’re fired or unfairly dismissed?

It is important that you seek legal advice if you believe that you have been fired or dismissed unfairly. You have up to 90 calendar days to act on the situation including raising a personal grievance. It is important you are taking these steps as soon as you have been notified that you are being fired or dismissed.

It is important that you have read and fully understood your employment agreement. To be aware of your rights is the first key step in knowing what you can and cannot do about being fired or dismissed from your position.

What is an unjustified dismissal?

Unjustified dismissal, or unfair dismissal is when an employee is dismissed from their job in a harsh, unjust or unreasonable manner.

Disciplinary Meeting

What is a disciplinary meeting at work?

A disciplinary meeting is an opportunity for you to explain your version of the events that have led to an investigation of misconduct at work.  There should be a good reason for a disciplinary meeting and the process of the disciplinary action should follow what is outlined in your employment agreement or your workplace’s policies.

What happens at a disciplinary meeting?

Before the meeting, your employer should give you a letter explaining what the disciplinary meeting is for. If the outcome of the disciplinary meeting could be that you lose your job it should say that in the letter. You should have time to find an employment lawyer or employment advocate to get legal advice, and you should be aware that you can bring a support person. At the meeting, you will be given an opportunity to explain your side of the story. Your support person, employment lawyer or employment advocate can speak on your behalf.  You will be able to provide evidence to support your side of the story.  Your employer should carefully consider your responses before making any decision. The outcome should not be pre-decided. Click here for more info on what to expect at a disciplinary meeting.

What to say at a disciplinary hearing

A disciplinary meeting or hearing is your opportunity to put your side of the story forward.  You should be told before the meeting what the problem your employer wishes to discuss is. It’s a good idea to prepare your responses in writing. You can ask your support person to speak for you. If you have any questions about what you are accused of doing you can ask them. You can ask to see the evidence or witness statements. You can provide your own evidence or witness statements to show your side of the story. Remain polite and calm.

Discrimination in the workplace

What is considered as discrimination in the workplace?

The law protects you from discrimination in the workplace.

Do you think you are experiencing workplace discrimination? We can help you on the following grounds;

  • colour
  • race
  • ethnic or national origins
  • sex (including pregnancy or childbirth)
  • marital or family status
  • age
  • disability
  • religious or ethical belief
  • political opinion
  • employment status
  • sexual orientation
  • involvement in union activities, which includes claiming or helping others to claim a benefit under an employment agreement, or taking or intending to take employment relations education leave.

These grounds are the same as the grounds in the Human Rights Act. In some circumstances, different treatment of employees on these grounds is acceptable.

If you believe your employer is discriminating against you on one or more of the prohibited grounds listed above – it is important to seek assistance at an early stage. Our company can provide representation to ensure that your rights are upheld.

Health & Safety

Can you be fired for refusing to work in unsafe conditions?

You cannot legally be dismissed for refusing to work under unsafe working conditions. We suggest raising the concern with your employer in writing if you feel the conditions are unsafe for work. If you are being disciplined, punished or dismissed for refusing to work in unsafe conditions or for raising an issue with your employer you can contact us for advice.

If you have concerns for your own safety or the safety of others we urge you to contact WorkSafe New Zealand.

fired

What do I do if I have been fired?

  1. Contact Us When you email us you will receive a confirmation email. Reply to that email with a full timeline of events, and attach any letters you have received from your employer.
  2. If you have just been fired or dismissed and you have no secured future income there are a few steps that you should take immediately to reduce your stress both financially and emotionally. If you have no money in the bank, ring the bank and stop all automatic payments, if there is no money in the bank you could incur fees.
  3. Contact the people that these payments go to and explain your situation.
  4. Contact your landlord and explain your situation.
  5. Book an appointment with your doctor if you are extremely distressed or have any symptoms such as; Difficulty sleeping, anxiety, depression, panic attacks etc…Please get a letter from your doctor explaining what you have visited him for, this will be added to your case file and will become part of your stress and distress claim.
  6. Contact Work and Income NZ, the sooner that you register for unemployment benefit, the sooner you will be eligible for payment. If we achieve compensation we will usually settle under a tax-free and tax-exempt section of the act, this will not, in this case, have any effect on your benefit.
  7. Cancel any unnecessary luxuries that will get you further into debt.
  8. Keep any and all evidence of attempts to look for work, loss of earnings can only be claimed (Unless you are unwell) if you have been actively looking for work.
  9. Contact friends or family for support to help get you through.
  10. Exercise even if you don’t feel like it, it will make you feel better and help you think clearly.

Covid

What do I do if I’m not getting paid properly?

  • I’m not getting paid at all
  • I’m not getting paid my usual pay
  • My employer is getting the wage subsidy but not giving it to me, or they are getting the subsidy and only giving me the subsidy not my usual pay.
  • I’m a casual worker. My hours are being cut, so I’m not being paid.

 Your employer should pay you what has been agreed to in your employment contract.

In response to all of the above questions and similar questions, we would recommend you correspond in writing with your employer and ask to be paid your usual pay as per your employment contract.  Any changes to your employment agreement should be negotiated with you, in good faith. For instance, your employer may receive the wage subsidy but not be able to afford to top your pay up to 100% of what you usually get. You should be consulted about that, and it should be clear that this is a temporary situation.

What to do if that doesn’t work?
If your employer doesn’t communicate with you and doesn’t pay you fairly you should contact the Early Resolution Service at Employment New Zealand.  The phone number is 0800209020, or you can contact them through their web form on this page: https://www.employment.govt.nz/resolving-problems/steps-to-resolve/early-resolution/

Can my employer dismiss me if I refuse to be vaccinated?

If you have been employed quite recently check your employment agreement to see if vaccination is a requirement.

Health and safety reasons for requiring work to be done by vaccinated workers

Businesses cannot require any individual to be vaccinated. However, businesses can require that certain work must only be done by vaccinated workers, where there is high risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 to others. This will be a minority of all work in New Zealand. This could change if there is a significant shift in the COVID-19 situation domestically.  Please check the Employment New Zealand Website for the latest information.

If you have been performing your role pre covid and you are being told that you may no longer perform the role if you are not vaccinated the issue needs to be carefully handled. If there is no requirement in your employment agreement that you must be vaccinated then your employer must understand that you have a right to chose not to be vaccinated.  The employer may be facing a problem where vaccination has become a requirement for all staff due to the nature of the work. If after a health and safety assessment there are sufficient risks then the employer would need to give you notice that there was a concern about the safety of you and others if you continue to perform your role while unvaccinated. You are within your rights to request from your employer what data they have used to come to the conclusion that it is not safe for you to perform your role while unvaccinated.

The Process
A larger employer may find a way to deploy you to another role that is less exposed to others. A smaller employer may put you on paid leave while exploring the options. Re-deployment may not be possible in some organisations. Any alterations to your rate of pay or hours should be negotiated in good faith.

Termination
If you do not have a specific clause in your employment agreement that requires you to be vaccinated then an employer must be very careful with the process of termination.  Redundancy is unlikely to be an option unless your role is genuinely no longer required.  Where you have been employed before Covid, and your employer has established that having you unvaccinated in the role is a significant health and safety concern they may be justified in terminating your employment contract. This could result in an unfair dismissal personal grievance if either the reason to dismiss was not justifiable or the process was flawed.

See the latest information on vaccines on the Employment New Zealand website. Legislation is changing because of Covid 19 and this affects specific roles:

In New Zealand, having a COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary and vaccines will not be forcibly administered.
However, if you work in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities or other government high-risk border settings receiving the vaccine is a requirement of the job.

Aged Care Workers
Currently, there is no order covering aged care workers, but employers in those industries should look at particular roles and decide whether or not your safety or the safety of others would be compromised by you not being vaccinated. The employer is obliged to work at redeployment and other options as part of a fair process.

 

Can my employer make me take my annual leave when we are in lockdown

Your employer can ask you to take annual leave during lockdown if you are unable to work from home.  You don’t have to agree.  If your employer asks you to take annual leave and you refuse your employer must give you 14 days notice before they can require you to take your annual leave.

Can my employer make me redundant during Covid?

Yes, if there is a genuine reason, and if your employer follows the correct redundancy process you can still be made redundant during lockdown.

Keep good notes of every part of the process that your employer follows and provide your feedback.
If your employer is receiving the wage subsidy it would be harder for them to justify making you redundant during the period they are receiving the subsidy.  As part of the consultation process, we would advise that you ask, in writing, if your employer has applied for the subsidy, and if they would use that to keep you employed during the lockdown period.

Can my employer force me to take unpaid leave during lockdown?

It’s an extreme situation If a business cannot operate over the lockdown, and therefore has no revenue, and an employee does not have any accrued leave, then an employer might be left with no choice but to require employees to take unpaid leave.

Any variations to your employment agreement should be agreed upon by both parties.
We suggest you ask questions, in writing:

Ideally, your employer will apply for the wage subsidy. If your employer has received the subsidy their obligation is to pay you at least 80% of your usual wages, except if your usual income is less than the subsidy amount.

If your employer is unable to remain in business there may be nothing they can do. Keep records of all correspondence between your employer and yourself in case you need professional advice.

What clients say about us

Would recommend Work Law for any unfair dismissals

Rated 5 out of 5
15 September 2021

Exceptionally fast work with good outcome I would recommend worklaw for any unfair dismissal applications

Raymond G.

I have no hesitation in recommending them to help you

Rated 5 out of 5
9 September 2021

My initial consultation was clear, honest and created trust which enabled me to know I had someone who knew how to take the stress of the situation off me. The presentation of the action plan was prompt, easily understood and brought a quick resolve. Many thanks to the Work Law team. Having been on both sides of workplace issues, I have no hesitation in recommending them to help you.

Tony S.

Response from No Win No Fee

Thank you for your review Tony. Best wishes from Jenifer and the team at Work Law.

What our clients are saying

Would recommend Work Law for any unfair dismissals

Rated 5 out of 5
15 September 2021

Exceptionally fast work with good outcome I would recommend worklaw for any unfair dismissal applications

Raymond G.

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