Danny Gelb
Employment Law Advocacy

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Employee - Disciplinary Meeting

I am an employee and I have been called to a disciplinary meeting. What can I do?

 

Information for Employers on Disciplinary Meetings can be found here.

 

You have certain rights under New Zealand law with regards to disciplinary meetings. These basic rights are that you are entitled to bring a support person with you, that you have reasonable notice of the meeting, you are told what the agenda for the meeting is and the likely consequences of the meeting. Most employers, but definitely not all of them, will follow the correct process as per the Employment Relations Act. The disciplinary meeting is an investigation into an alleged incident whereby the employer is giving you the opportunity to explain your version of events in order for you to defend yourself against such allegations. Once the meeting is at an end, the employer will consider what you expressed and they will make their decision. This is usually then communicated to the employee by way of a proposed outcome for the employee to comment on before the final decision is made.

 

There are decisions you can make at the meeting. These will vary depending on your particular circumstances and, in general, your choices are to either try and amend your ways so that your employer benefits from you being in their employment or, it may be better for you to decide that you no longer want to work there, for whatever reason. Should you wish to continue your employment, then you will need to discuss and agree on an action plan with your employer, in good faith, when they give you their decision at a subsequent meeting (provided of course that their decision is not to terminate your employment). Should they terminate your employment, then you do have legal rights depending on the circumstances.

 

Should you decide that you do not want to continue working for the employer during the disciplinary meeting, then you have various options. You can attempt to agree on an exit package that will result in a written agreement for you and the employer to sign. The employer will probably want to send this off to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for mediator signing that makes that agreement full and final. In other words, once that agreement is signed by the mediator, then you can not lodge a personal grievance with the Employment Relations Authority. Should you not be able to come to an agreement, then your options are to either stay employed or resign. By resigning, you give up about 90% of your rights as an employee.  Raising a successful personal grievance against an employer after having resigned is extremely difficult.

 

We are a solutions focused organisation. Yes, the past does come into it however, we are future focused as that is what counts.  What is the best result moving forward for all concerned? This is where we will help you. Our aim is to help you negotiate a solution that gives a clear path forward. By doing this, we save everyone time and the possible costs of going to the Employment Relations Authority. Employers look at the total cost of all the components when trying to resolve an employment situation. The less they have to spend on their lawyers, their own time, and the Employment Relations Authority, the more they are likely to pay to settle or resolve the situation with you – or, alternatively, what they are prepared to pay for your further training.

We can help you at these meeting as your support person by protecting your rights as an employee and possibly maximising your position. Please call us on 0800 HELP ME (0800 435 763) to discuss the details or email us danny.gelb@employmentlaw.net.nz

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