The timeframe to raise personal grievances for lockdown redundancies and unilateral changes to hours is limited.

There has been a significant spike in the number of personal grievances raised since 23 March 2020, when the Prime Minister announced that New Zealand was entering level 3 immediately and would enter level 4 at 11.59 on Wednesday 25 March 2020.

In navigating the uncertainty of the lockdown and the effects of this on their organisations, employers of all sizes made some snap decisions and a number of employees were made redundant or had their hours reduced without process.

However, as has frequently been stated, employment law requirements were not put in lockdown. Employers were still required to act in good faith and consult with staff prior to making any decisions that would have an adverse effect on the continuation of employment. The reality is many employers did not do this across the changing alert levels.

What can I raise a personal grievance for?

A personal grievance can be raised under a number of grounds under the Employment Relations Act 2000.  The most common grievances we are seeing arising as a result of the lockdown as those of unjustified dismissal and unjustified disadvantage.  Examples of these include:

  • Employees dismissed or made redundant without a fair process;
  • Employers making changes or decisions which affect a condition of employment (such as hours of work or rate of pay) without first consulting their employees; or
  • Employees subjected to discriminatory treatment (for example on the basis of age, gender or ethnicity) as part of a restructuring or redundancy process.

We note this is not an exhaustive list of the grounds you may have to raise a personal grievance.  However, the first thing to ask yourself is whether your employer acted fairly and reasonably towards you when making any changes or decisions.  Please get in touch if you have any doubts about your employer’s conduct.

How long do I have to raise a personal grievance?

If you intend to raise a personal grievance because you were dismissed or treated unfairly at any point during the lockdown, you only have 90 days to raise a personal grievance starting from the day of the action that led to the grievance.  For example, if you were made redundant on 24 March 2020 your last day to raise a grievance is 21 June 2020 (24 March 2020 is counted as the first day!).

For more information

Contact us to ensure you raise a grievance before time runs out, and one of our employment law experts will assist you with the process.

Please note that some issues relating to wages, salary and annual leave are pursued under different legislation, and therefore the timeframe for this is six years. To ensure that you do not miss your opportunity or to clarify which timeframe applies to you please contact our employment team today on 04 472 0020 or email

COVID-19 - Personal Grievance - JB Morrison