Redundancy is a common occurrence in New Zealand workplaces, and it can be a painful process that sometimes leads to unfair treatment and unjustified dismissals. This article will explain redundancy and provide examples of unfair treatment. It will also offer tips for preparing for the best outcome.
What does redundancy mean?
In New Zealand, redundancy means a job is no longer needed because the company has gone through some big changes and there is less workload compared to the past. According to New Zealand law Employment Relations Act 2000, a redundancy should be genuine and should always be carried out carefully by following the rules.
There is an expectation in New Zealand that employees will be fairly treated during the redundancy process. Unfortunately it’s not always the case and at times, unfair treatment and unjustified dismissal may occur.
So what is unfair treatment?
Unfair treatment can include things like
- Not talking to employees before making the redundancies
- Breaking the employment contract
- Not trying to help the employee to find other jobs within the company, this is known as redeployment.
Not consulting employees before making redundancy decisions
Employers should consult employees before making redundancy decisions. This process needs to be open, fair, and allow employees to share their thoughts. If the employee thinks the company has set barriers for them to be involved in this process, they can claim an unfair dismissal.
Dismissing a person for discriminatory factors is against the law in New Zealand, as per the Employment Relations Act 2000. Common discriminations include age, gender, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation. A person who believes they have been discriminated against may have a case for unjustified dismissal.
Breaking the employment contract
In New Zealand most employment agreements will include clauses about the process that the employer will follow in the case of redundancy. Employers should obey these contract terms closely. Not doing so can be seen as unfair treatment.
Employee was not given the opportunity to find other jobs within the organisation
It's essential to explore whether there are other positions that could be available to the employees within the company before making them redundant. This is called redeployment, which is important for fairness in the process of redundancy.
What should you do if you are in the process of redundancy?
If you believe you or someone you know has been treated unfairly during redundancy, it's essential to seek legal advice.
Employment advocates like My Advocate or employment lawyers can help assess the situation and explain your legal options. Read on to understand the difference between employment advocate and employment lawyer.
If you're in this situation, keep copies of your employment contract and all communication from your employer about the redundancy.
Redundancy can be a distressing time, seeking professional counselling and support can make it easier. Some employers are part of an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) where employees can access these services for free or at a reduced cost.
For those needing assistance, you can arrange a free consultation with My Advocate, an organisation dedicated to supporting individuals and upholding fairness in New Zealand's employment landscape.