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Two of the Most Common Personal Grievances Explained

Published June 04, 2021 (last updated February 21, 2023) - ANZ Head of Legal Services
an employer who understands personal grievances

A personal grievance is a procedure for an employee (or ex-employee) to challenge dismissals or treatment they consider to be unfair.

A personal grievance is raised if the employee has made it reasonably clear in enough detail to their employer that they have a complaint they want addressing. Two common types of complaints that can be raised by bringing a personal grievance are unjustifiable dismissal and unjustified disadvantage.

Unjustifiable Dismissal

An employer should only dismiss an employee on reasonable grounds and after a fair process. An employee may be able to lodge a personal grievance claim if an employer does not do the following when terminating their employment: 

Act in Good Faith

Acting in good faith means both the employer and employee should be honest, fair and transparent in their dealings with each other. They should listen to one another and respond appropriately in a timely manner.  

Have A Good Reason

A good reason for dismissal must be genuine and reflect what a fair and reasonable employer could have done at the time of the dismissal in the circumstances. Examples of good reasons include serious or repeated misconduct. 

Follow A Fair and Reasonable Process 

Procedural fairness is equally important – an employer should fully investigate any concerns, and then raise them with the employee allowing a reasonable time to respond, as well as the opportunity to seek independent advice and have a representative or support person present if they prefer. The employer should carefully consider the employee’s responses with an open mind and take into account any extenuating circumstances before making a decision.

Make Sure the Outcome Is Not Pre-Determined 

You must be able to prove, as the result of a complete and fairly conducted investigation, you were justified in believing the misconduct occurred and that is why you ended the employment. Try to avoid bending the process and facts to meet a certain outcome.

Unjustified Disadvantage

Employers must not do something that affects an employee’s employment in a way that disadvantages them or affects their ability to do their job.

Examples of employees who have been ‘disadvantaged’ may include employees who have:   

  • been given a warning, suspension, or demotion, 
  • had hours of work or pay changed without consultation, 
  • been underpaid, 
  • been misled by their employer, 
  • not had the opportunity to respond to allegations against them, 
  • not had a safe workplace, or 
  • not been informed about proposals which may affect their employment. 

A personal grievance claiming unjustified disadvantage generally concerns something an employee is entitled to under their employment agreement. An employer needs to ensure the actions they took are justifiable in the circumstances.

BrightHR can help you keep track of your employees’ working hours, and corresponding pay and entitlement, by monitoring absences and shift schedules as employees clock in and out with Blip. 

Blip sends reminders to, and notifications from employees in respect of clocking on and off so you can track time and location. It also allows employees to log breaks. You can then generate a report that will show the number of shifts and hours worked, breaks and their duration and the total number of hours worked excluding those breaks to help with payments.

How Employsure Can Help You

Employsure may be able to assist you if you are currently subject to an unjustifiable dismissal, unjustified disadvantage or other type of personal grievance claim, and assist you in shoring up your business’ policies and processes to better protect your business and your people in the event of any future personal grievance claim.

Get Workplace Advice Now

Employsure can help you better understand personal grievances. Call us now for free, initial advice.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small- and medium-businesses, with over 5,000 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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