We specialise in advising employees on all matters relating to their employment. This ranges from quick advice on a particular issue to research and provision of more detailed opinions, representing employees in disciplinary and redundancy processes and in personal grievances in the Employment Relations Authority and/or Employment Court.
About Our Employee Relations Services
We cover all manner of day-to-day enquiries, including annual leave payments, sick leave enquiries, and the effect of new legislation. In particular, our employment law team is experienced in providing practical and effective advice to employers in the following areas:
It is essential to ensure that employment agreements reflect the terms of employment negotiated between employer and employee. Employers are required to allow employees to have the opportunity to obtain independent advice and assistance prior to signing employment agreements and it is at this stage that we can offer helpful and practical advice and assistance which will be of benefit throughout the period of employment.
90-day trial period
The relatively recent amendments providing for the 90 day trial period are of critical importance to employers and employees. Specialised knowledge as to the structure of these trial periods, their effect and implications can be of considerable assistance.
Employees often require assistance when confronted by their employer for the purpose of employment reviews and in particular performance reviews and performance management processes.
When allegations concerning performance or discipline are made, it is essential for employees to understand their rights and entitlements as well as the stringent legal processes that are incumbent on employers.
In order for a redundancy to be correctly implemented, the employer must ensure the following:
a) That the selection criteria is fair and appropriate;
b) That the correct and comprehensive consultation and communication process is embarked upon and completed;
c) That the employee is given the opportunity to respond to the proposals that are made and ensure that their responses are taken into account prior to reaching a final determination.
Personal grievances can arise in a number of circumstances. In the majority of cases a personal grievance occurs when an employer terminates an employment relationship unlawfully. In such circumstances the employee has 90 days from the date of the event constituting the personal grievance to formally raise their personal grievance. In raising the personal grievance the employee must outline the actions of the employer which they claim constitute the personal grievance and the relief and remedies that are sought. The employer then has 14 days within which to respond.
In the event that matters are not resolved at this stage, the matter may proceed to the Employment Relations Authority. In almost all circumstances the dispute will become the subject of a mediation conference conducted through the Business Innovation & Development mediation services agency at which time the parties will have the opportunity to attend a round table discussion conducted on a without prejudice and off the record basis. It is of considerable assistance for both the employer and employee to have competent legal representation for the purpose of the mediation conference. A vast majority of matters do resolve at a mediation conference stage however if this does not occur the dispute will then proceed to the Employment Relations Authority for an investigation meeting and determination by an authority member (adjudicator).
Why Choose Turner Hopkins
- Highly experienced professional employment law specialists
- A competitive cost structure
- Impeccable service and response to enquiries
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many reasons you may need a lawyer in employment matters.
Before starting a job, you may want to have your employment contract checked by a lawyer before you sign. There may be conditions, terminology you don't understand or 'small print' that is worth double-checking before putting pen to paper.
The most common reasons to get in touch with a lawyer include:
- constructive or unjustifiable dismissal
- harassment or bullying
- unfairly made redundant
An employer must allow you to take away an employment agreement, and to seek advice on its terms prior to signing the agreement. A solicitor can provide advice on any areas of concern or any areas that require clarification.
The employment contract needs to be in writing and signed by you and your employer. The agreement needs to include:
- names of the employer and the employee
- description of work to be performed by you
- indication of where you need to perform the work
- indication of the arrangements relating to the times/hours you need to work
- the wages or salary
- redundancy clause
- a plain language explanation of the services available for the resolution of employment relationship problems
Fixed term and casual agreements both have specific contractual requirements. These contracts should also be reviewed professionally before being signed.
Independent contractors are not employees and are not covered by the Employment Relations Act. However, there can be times when it is arguable whether someone is a contractor or employee.
Under the Employment Relations Act 2000, there are two types of employment agreements: individual employment agreements and collective agreements.
Individual employment agreements are negotiated between an individual and their employer, and bind only those parties.
Collective agreements are negotiated between a registered union and an employer. A collective agreement will only be binding on employees who are members of the union and whose positions are covered by the coverage clause of the collective agreement.
If there is an involuntary termination, what will happen?
- If there is a termination, how much notice must you receive?
- What is the base pay and performance incentives?
- Is there a trial period?
- What is the job description or position description?
- If you want to do some work on the side or have a sideline business, is this allowed with your employment contract?
- What are your rights to copyrights, inventions or creative outputs while in the job?
- Is there a restraint of trade in the event of a termination?
- If you wanted to start a business after you leave your employment are you allowed to work with their customers (how long it is before you can approach them)?
- What happens if your employer sells the business?
- Are you allowed to work for a competitor within a certain time frame of leaving the previous job?
Provided that an offer of employment has been made, and accepted, you are "a person intending to work" whether or not they have signed an employment agreement.
As an employee, you have many of the same protections as someone who has commenced work, and also some obligations. Should you decide not to commence work, you may have to provide a period of notice to your employer. However, the employer cannot withdraw an offer of employment once it has been accepted. To do so would run the risk of a personal grievance being raised by you.
An employee who does not have an agreement prior to beginning work may then bargain on each and every point in the agreement, when that it presented after commencement of employment. The employer and employee may then negotiate over the terms until they come to agreement.
From 1 July 2011, it is mandatory a signed employment agreement is held on file by the employer for every employee. This will include casual, part-time, fixed term and permanent employees.
“My employer was going through a restructure and I contacted Michael Robinson for legal consultation. After a short discussion, I was convinced that I trust this person to represent me. During this difficult period, Michael led the case very professionally, keeping all the details under control and making sure I am getting the best outcome. In those instances, you need the most professional support, attention to details, approachability to consult and above all genuinely caring about your situation. All of those I got from Michael and the Turner Hopkins staff.”
“To Michael Robinson – I wanted to thank you and your colleagues for many years of excellent service to the Bank. You have an outstanding business that has proved to be one of the most reliable and ethical businesses that Collections have dealt with in the almost 9 years I was with the Bank.”
“Joy, we cannot thank you enough for your help with our purchase! You have been wonderful to deal with and so proactive (and patient with my numerous emails). We will be visiting NZ in April so will make sure we drop in to thank you in person.”
“John is very easy to talk to, he never makes you feel dumb, and never makes you feel like you are wasting his time for asking questions. He explains everything very clearly, every time. John's support staff are also very efficient and so easy to deal with. No detail is missed when dealing with them. My husband and I are fans of them all :)”