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Grievance payouts depend on where people live

Media Statement Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Grievance payouts depend on where people live

Employees win different amounts of compensation for personal grievance claims depending on where they live, says David Lowe, Employment Services Manager for the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern).

Mr Lowe said the average award for hurt and humiliation was $5,526 in Auckland, $6,630 in Christchurch but $8,636 in Wellington.

"Regional variations are most pronounced in relation to redundancies," he said.

"In calendar year 2007 Wellington employees were awarded an average of $14,166 compensation for these, almost double the amounts paid in Auckland ($7,473) and Christchurch ($7,636)."

EMA analyses the decisions of the Employment Relations Authority every year the latest figures for which apply to calendar year 2007.*

"The reasons for the amount of compensation awarded are not often set out in the Authority's determination," Mr Lowe said, "and employers would welcome more transparency. They need to understand why the amount is what it is.

"Happily, the total number of personal grievance claims the Authority heard in 2007 was down 20 per cent from the previous year.

"More employers appear to be asserting their rights in court rather than taking the often cheaper option of negotiating an out-of-court settlement. The latter option can encourage other employees to make a claim to try their luck.

"Another satisfying finding is that an employer's chance of being slapped with a grievance claim is dramatically decreased if he/she has sought good advice on the employment procedures they are required to follow.

"Only 26 per cent of grievances were lodged against employers that are members of EMA and who have immediate phone access to EMA's team of advisers on employment issues."

"EMA members taken to task were also 10 per cent more likely to be proven right when claims were made against them.

"Overall the personal grievance law is still too complex. For example, employers are finding redundancy the most difficult category of dismissal to get right - 73 per cent of employers lost their cases."


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