Employment, Health and Safety

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Employ the right advice

The relationship between employers and employees are often harmonious and mutually beneficial. However, when disputes arise, they can attract unwanted public attention which can be damaging to a reputation or brand. Companies need to be able to anticipate workplace disputes, as well as have decisive strategies in the face of any incidents.

Whether an employer is looking for assistance structuring new employment agreements, or needs assistance settling personal grievance claims, our team is there to provide all the employment-related services they require.

We also offer clients services in health and safety, compliance and litigation and are experts in industrial relations.

Employment

We understand that clients need advice on a broad range of contentious and non-contentious aspects of New Zealand employment law. Our lawyers assist with the protection of confidential information, enforcement of restraints of trade, misconduct issues and performance management, and can help during the sale, merger, or outsourcing of a business with issues like redundancy and restructuring.

Our finance experts can also assist with issues around superannuation and KiwiSaver, and we can provide assistance during issues relating to human rights, privacy, harassment and worker’s compensation.

The employment team provides clients with advice on all contentious and non-contentious aspects of New Zealand employment law, including:

  • The relationship between employers and unions, including collective bargaining issues and the terms of collective agreements. We have considerable experience in dealing with unlawful strike situations and assisting clients with protracted bargaining.
  • Personal grievance claims and other employment related litigation (including disputes), from mediation through to advocacy in the Employment Relations Authority, Employment Court, High Court and Court of Appeal.
  • The protection of confidential information and restraints of trade.
  • Issues arising during employment, including misconduct issues, performance management, health and safety and stress claims.
  • The employment consequences associated with the sale, purchase or outsourcing of a business, including redundancy issues, drafting relevant sections in agreements for sale and purchase and advising on the transfer of undertakings regime in New Zealand.
  • Restructuring and negotiation of severance arrangements with departing employees.
  • Drafting employment agreements, workplace policies and other associated documentation.
  • Employee benefits, including share schemes, bonuses, superannuation and KiwiSaver issues.
  • Issues relating to human rights, privacy, harassment and personal injury/accident compensation.

Health and safety

Health and safety issues can often arise quickly and unexpectedly, demanding fast and decisive action or a highly sensitive approach. We offer complete case management of any health and safety related prosecutions and liaise with all stakeholders in a fatal accident inquiry, including working with our clients to develop media strategies.

The most effective way to manage health and safety incidents is to avoid them in the first place so we are also experienced in drafting company policies and health and safety compliance advice. With a deep knowledge of the issues around health and safety, our practice interacts with other aspects of our clients' businesses, including drug and alcohol policies and issues in relation to drug testing in the workplace.

Should the worst occur, we liaise with enforcement agencies (including WorkSafe) regarding investigations and represent clients throughout a prosecution, including through to sentencing if necessary.

Our experience includes:

  • Advising on a range of health and safety investigations and prosecutions, including responding to WorkSafe requests for information and interviews, leading discussions with WorkSafe on appropriate charging, representing defendants in Court for entering of pleas, contested fact hearings, defended hearings and pleas in mitigation of sentence. 
  • Successfully defending Transfield (now Broadspectrum) in a prosecution following a fatal accident during linework.
  • Acting for a director in a contested fact hearing related to the IcePak Coolstore explosion.
  • Acting for URS NZ in the Pike River Royal Commission Inquiry.
  • Acting for Pyne Gould Corporation at the Christchurch Earthquake Royal Commission.
  • Representing a client at sentencing in relation to a fatal accident in a milking shed – this led to a successful High Court judgment on the extent to which reparations can be taken into account during sentencing.

Industrial relations

The relationship between employers and unions can be difficult, yet with the right counsel, employers can minimise disputes and come to pragmatic, effective resolutions.

We provide employers with meaningful solutions on a variety of matters including collective bargaining issues and the terms of collective agreements. Our experience during bargaining also includes advice regarding industrial action – both in terms of strategic advice and where necessary, injunctions to enforce an employer's legal rights.

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