Ken Heywood was a Project Supervisor for Ronanye Construction Ltd, a company that specialises in the construction of schools and factories in the Rotorua/Taupo area. Mr Heywood was dismissed on 28 September 2010 but he didn’t raise this grievance until he wrote a letter to the Employment Relations Authority on the 10th of March 2011, some 163 days later! He had two problems. First, he didn't raise the grievance with his employer (he sent his letter to the Employment Relations Authority), and second, he was way outside the 90 day period.
The Employment Relations Authority had to decide whether to allow Mr Heywood to bring his grievance out of time. It could do so if there were "exceptional circumstances" Mr Heywood argued that he felt so distressed and traumatised by his dismissal that he missed the 90 day deadline but the Authority said that was not an exceptional circumstance because many people are traumatised by dismissal.
The Authority did however find that it was exceptional that there was no written employment agreement and therefore no written explanation that Mr Heywood had to commence his grievance within 90 days.
This Authority decision is another reminder to employers that they must have a written employment agreement and that the employment agreement must contain an explanation of how employment relationship problems can be resolved - in particular that the employee has only 90 days to raise a grievance.
Since 1 July 2011, employers must have a copy of each employment agreement on file. If they don't then they may suffer significant financial penalties.
[Heywood v Ronanye Construction Ltd [ NZERA Auckland 444; 13/10/2011; R Monaghan]]