We act for both employees and employers. We can help with contracts and interpretation of them. Particularly, we can represent you with disputes. We try not to be
confrontational, unless we have to be, because that is usually counterproductive. Particularly, if the employment relationship is worth keeping.
If employment relationships have broken down and the case turns to litigation then we will try to solve it through mediation. If mediation is not approached with an open mind on both sides then progress will not be made and it really can be a “roll of the dice” as to who wins in the Employment Relations Authority (“ERA”) or the Employment Court. Employment cases are so fact specific that it is often hard to give good guidance on prospects of success until the evidence has fully emerged. Also, the procedure is quite elaborate and a loss is potentially ruinous for an employee or small employer. There could also be bad publicity. So, for that reason, settlement and mediation are usually preferable.
However, if common sense does not prevail and one party has a particular need to have a determination then we are quite prepared to take a case all the way through to any level in the court hierarchy. Counsel regularly appears in the Employment Court and ERA. The Court of Appeal is also familiar ground for Steven Zindel who has made many appearances there. As with all litigation, the key to success in employment cases is solid preparation and interviewing of witnesses. Taking short cuts usually results in an inferior product, in the law as in elsewhere.
Of particular importance is to ensure that the initial correspondence and notification of any personal grievance is made clearly and in sufficient detail. There is a 90 day time period from the date of any adverse action, not simply dismissal, to provide notice to the employer and it is important not to sit on your rights. Many cases involve technicalities such as whether proper notification has been given by an employee and in sufficient time. For that reason, if you do have an employment issue, it is recommended that you obtain help from us, just as soon as possible and, no matter how busy we may be, we will fit you in to make sure that any necessary correspondence issues immediately.
Our approach is to meet with you and usually to dictate correspondence in your presence. That way you can immediately check the accuracy of the contents of the letters which we are dictating. This is preferable to to-ing and fro-ing over drafts of letters while time ticks by. We will also not wait for details such as legal aid while urgent correspondence is needed, for fear of letting important time periods slip. The law has many time periods in it and there are many traps for the unwary.
Employment is one of those areas where many advocates and lay-people (including overstretched unions) state that they can represent their clients adequately. If they are experienced that may be so but there is no substitute for knowledge and expertise.
We are professionals in the sense that we take what we do seriously and read up constantly about new developments. We are always slightly insecure about our level of knowledge and as a result, try to upskill ourselves continually. It is a never ending exercise and we don’t claim total perfection in our level of knowledge but we will certainly do our best to keep on top of new developments. We spend a lot of money on library systems so that we have the very latest and up to date analysis and information upon which we may draw to form our opinions and to give our advice.