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Personal grievances costing $120 million annually

Media statement

Thursday, April 8th, 2004

Personal grievances costing $120 million annually

An analysis by the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) of the determinations made by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) across all types of personal grievance found they increased in value by 17.3 per cent in 2003 compared to 2002. The EMA analyses the ERA figures each year.

"Of a total of 54 personal grievance claims arising from redundancy cases last year, 57 per cent or 31 were decided in the employee's favour," said Peter Tritt, EMA's Employment Relations Manager.

"Of the total of 224 decisions relating to misconduct or poor performance 46.8 per cent or 105 went the employee's way.

"There's also been a big jump in the number of decisions from 168 in 2002 to 309 last year.

"Amounts awarded for redundancy cases totalled $325,272 while awards relating to misconduct or poor performance totalled $924,423.

"The combined figure of $1,249,695 includes lost remuneration and lost benefits but not actual legal costs or legal cost awarded by the Authority. The dollar value figure represents about 11 per cent of total personal grievance cases with the other 89 per cent settled or withdrawn before reaching an Authority determination.

"The cases settled in mediation or before reaching the Authority are usually subject to confidentiality clauses but by extrapolating from the ERA figures the total cost of personal grievance claims each year is at least $120 million.

"There is evidence that mediated payments are larger than those determined by the Authority.

"The analysis also showed once again that if its compensation for a personal grievance you're after, employees in the Wellington region do better than aggrieved employees in either Auckland or Christchurch.

"However employees seeking compensation arising out of redundancy situations are more likely to find success in Christchurch than either Auckland or Wellington.

"Getting redress for being fired for misconduct, or for performance reasons, is most likely in Wellington where nearly 60 per cent of claims went in the employees' favour.

"Between 2001 and 2002 personal grievance claims nationally declined by 30 per cent overall but last year increased 39 per cent.

"Awards for hurt and humiliation in personal grievances cases relating to redundancy claims increased 40 per cent last year.

"The figures suggest hurt and humiliation suffered in the capital is greater too as Wellington's aggrieved employees enjoyed pay outs about $2000 higher than in Auckland or Christchurch. Last year a successful claimant in Wellington received an average 45 per cent more than in 2002.

"Christchurch's awards for personal grievances arising from redundancy are notably lower than the two northern cities; 45 per cent lower than Auckland, 72 per cent lower than Wellington. But Christchurch claimants took eight per cent more personal grievance claims than in 2002.

"Wellington's ERA member Denis Asher took first place in the average total judgment values stakes. The awards he handed down at $18,000 were nearly twice the national average and about $2,200 more than the next highest."

ENDS

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