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Terms

Disability in the Workplace

Under the Human Rights Act 1993 it is against the law to discriminate against a potential job candidate or current employee who is disabled.

Only under strict circumstances can an employer refuse to hire a disabled employee. This is typically if the employee cannot perform the requirements of the job or they pose a health and safety risk to themselves or other employees.

When hiring a disabled employee the employer may need to make adjustments around the workplace so it is safe and accessible for the new worker. Making reasonable accommodations does not have to be expensive or time-consuming if the employer is flexible and open to getting advice from experts.

Disciplinary Procedure

Addressing and resolving poor performance or misconduct in the workplace. Employers must have a good reason to discipline an employee and the procedure must be fair and reasonable in accordance with employment legislation.

Employers should have a clear disciplinary procedure in the company handbook which outlines the type of behaviour that is and is not accepted, and what to expect from the disciplinary process.

If the disciplinary procedure is handled poorly, an employee may submit a personal grievance claim against the employer.

Discrimination

When a person is treated unfairly or less favourably than other people in the same or similar circumstances based on their skin colour, sex, ethnicity, disability, marital status, age, pregnancy, religious and political beliefs, employment status or sexual orientation.

Discrimination in the workplace can be either direct (i.e. treating an employee less favourably than others) or indirect (i.e. placing unfair terms in an employment agreement that disadvantages an individual or a certain group of people).

It is the employer’s responsibility to prevent all forms of discrimination in the workplace. This extends to recruiting new workers, handing out promotions and dismissing employees.

Dispute

A disagreement between two or more people in the workplace.

Workplace disputes can negatively impact productivity and tarnish the working relationship between employees, their colleagues and the employer. These events can occur due to a work-related matter (e.g. breach of employment agreement, treatment of employees) or a personal conflict of interest.

When managing a dispute, it is important to respect the rights of all employees and follow the correct internal procedure to resolve the matter quickly. If the dispute cannot be resolved internally, the employee may request mediation through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Dispute Resolution

The process of resolving a disagreement between two or more people in the workplace or between the employee and their employer. This can be done as an informal procedure in the workplace, or with assistance from Mediation Services.

Having a good dispute resolution process can help preserve the working relationship and reduce the amount of downtime lost. All businesses should have their own dispute resolution procedure, which clearly explains each step of the process and the outcomes that people can expect.

If a dispute is serious, the matter can be taken to the Employment Relations Authority or Human Rights Review Tribunal for review.

Due Diligence

Investigating a person or company to confirm all the details are correct and the subject is meeting the requirements of an agreement. In the workplace, an employee may need to demonstrate due diligence and prove they are meeting the Work Health and Safety requirements.

Due diligence can be a voluntary investigation or a legal requirement. While it is a legal requirement for WorkSafe New Zealand to carry out due diligence on a workplace, in a business transaction the process may be optional and instead be done to increase buyer confidence.

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