90-day personal grievance timeframe

As all employers should know, there is a 90-day timeframe for employees to raise a personal grievance, unless the grievance relates to alleged sexual harassment in which case there is a 12-month timeframe (see our previous article on this, here).

There can be debate on when the 90-day timeframe begins, especially when the employee has waited until the 11th hour before raising the personal grievance claim.  Under the Employment Relations Act 2000, the 90-day timeframe begins on the date the event/incident happened, or the date when the employee became aware of the event/incident, whichever date is later.  The timeframe under the Act is inclusive of the day the event/incident happened.  For example, if an incident happened on 1 March, this day counts as ‘day one’ of the 90-day timeframe, and the timeframe will end on 30 May.

However, the specific wording of a clause in an employee’s employment agreement can extend this timeframe.  A recent example of this was considered by the Employment Relations Authority in the determination of Coe v Taranaki Truck Dismantlers Ltd , where the clause stated that the 90-day timeframe began “from the time the problem occurred”.  The Authority determined that this wording extended the statutory timeframe and gave the employee one extra day to raise their personal grievance.  This one extra day meant the employee had raised their claim within the timeframe for it to be valid.

This determination is a good reminder of the importance of well-drafted employment agreements. If you would like a review or update to your employment agreements or policies, get in touch with the team at Edwards Law.

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