STCA 2013 Part Nine; Employment Relationship Problem Resolution Provisions

The Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement (STCA) is the employment agreement negotiated by the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association / Te Wehengarua (PPTA) for PPTA members in  secondary schools, intermediates and technology centres.

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Personal grievances and disputes shall be addressed in accordance with the provisions of Part 9 of the Employment Relations Act 2000.

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9.1 Employment Relationship Problem Resolution Services

The following is a plain language explanation of the employment relationship problem resolution services.

What is an employment relationship problem? It is a problem between employee and employer. For example, it might be a personal grievance or a dispute about a provision in an employment agreement.

Resolving an employment relationship problem The employee and employer should first make a reasonable effort to discuss the problem and settle it by mutual agreement. (If it's a personal grievance, it must first be raised with the employer and within 90 days - Personal Grievances are explained further below.)
An employee (or employer) has the right to be represented at any stage.
When a problem arises, union members should contact their local NZPPTA field officer for advice and representation.
Employers should contact their local NZSTA adviser or other representative of their choice.

Personal Grievances A personal grievance is a particular type of employment relationship problem that normally must be raised with the employer within 90 days of the grievance arising.
An employee may have a personal grievance where:

  • They have been dismissed without good reason, or the dismissal was not carried out properly.
  • They have been treated unfairly.
  • Their employment or a condition of their employment has been affected to their disadvantage by an unjustified action of their employer.
  • They have experienced sexual or racial harassment, or have been discriminated against because of their involvement in a union or other employee organisation, or have suffered duress over membership or non-membership of a union or other employee organisation.
  • They have been discriminated against in terms of the prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Human Rights Act 1993.

Note: The full meaning of the terms personal grievance, discrimination, sexual harassment, racial harassment, and duress, shall be the meaning given by sections 103 to 110 inclusive of the Employment Relations Act 2000.

As with other employment relationship problems, the parties should always try to resolve a personal grievance through discussion.
Either party can refer a personal grievance to the Employment Relations Service of the Department of Labour for mediation assistance, or to the Employment Relations Authority.

If the problem relates to a type of discrimination that can be the subject of a complaint to the Human Rights Commission under the Human Rights Act 1993, the person can either take a personal grievance, or complain to the Human Rights Commission, but not both. If in doubt, advice should be sought before deciding.

Services Available To help resolve employment relationship problems, the Department of Labour provides:

  • An information service This is free. It is available by contacting the Department of Labour or by phoning toll free 0800 209020. The Department's Employment Relations Service's internet address is www.ers.dol.govt.nz and can be contacted by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
  • Mediation Service The Mediation Service is a free and independent service available through the Department of Labour. This service helps to resolve employment relationship problems and generally to promote the smooth conduct of employment relationships.
Mediation is a mutual problem-solving process, with the aim of reaching an agreement, assisted by an independent third party.
If the parties can't reach a settlement they can ask the mediator, in writing, to make a final and binding decision.
A settlement reached through mediation and signed by the mediator at the request of the parties is final, binding and enforceable. Neither party can then take the matter any further and, either party can be made to comply with the agreed settlement by court order.
If the problem is unresolved through mediation either party may apply to have the matter dealt with by the Employment Relations Authority.
  • The Employment Relations Authority This Authority is an investigative body that operates in an informal way. It looks into the facts and makes a decision on the merits of the case and not on the legal technicalities.
  • Either an employer or an employee can refer an unresolved employment relationship problem to the Authority by filing the appropriate forms.
    The Authority may call evidence, hold investigative meetings, or interview anyone involved. It can direct the parties to try mediation. If mediation is unsuitable or has not resolved the problem, the Authority will make a decision that is binding on all parties.
    Any party can contest the Authority's decision through the Employment Court.

Note: All employment relationship problems, including personal grievances and any dispute about the interpretation or application of this agreement, must be resolved under Parts 9 and 10 of the Employment Relations Act 2000.


9.2 Personal Grievances

Sections 103 to 105 and 107 to 110 are reproduced below from Part Nine of the Employment Relations Act 2000.

103 Personal grievance

(1) For the purposes of this Act, personal grievance means any grievance that an employee may have against the employee's employer or former employer because of a claim"“

(a) that the employee has been unjustifiably dismissed; or
(b) that the employee's employment, or 1 or more conditions of the employee's employment (including any condition that survives termination of the mployment), is or are or was (during employment that has since been terminated) affected to the employee's disadvantage by some unjustifiable ction by the employer; or
(c) that the employee has been discriminated against in the employee's employment; or
(d) that the employee has been sexually harassed in the employee's employment; or
(e) that the employee has been racially harassed in the employee's employment; or
(f) that the employee has been subject to duress in the employee's employment in relation to membership or non-membership of a union or employees organisation; or
(g) that the employee's employer has failed to comply with a requirement of Part 6A.

(2) For the purposes of this Part, a representative, in relation to an employer and in relation to an alleged personal grievance, means a person"“
(a) who is employed by that employer; and

(b) who either"“

(i) Has authority over the employee alleging the grievance; or
(ii) Is in a position of authority over other employees in the workplace of the employee alleging the grievance.

(3) In subsection (1)(b), unjustifiable action by the employer does not include an action deriving solely from the interpretation, application, or operation, or disputed interpretation, application, or operation, of any provision of any employment agreement.

103A Test of justification
For the purposes of section 103(1)(a) and (b), the question of whether a dismissal or an action was justifiable must be determined, on an objective basis, by considering whether the employer's actions, and how the employer acted, were what a fair and reasonable employer would have done in all the circumstances at the time the dismissal or action occurred.

104 Discrimination
(1) For the purposes of section 103(1)(c), an employee is discriminated against in that employee's employment if the employee's employer or a representative of that employer, by reason directly or indirectly of any of the prohibited grounds of discrimination specified in section 105, or by reason directly or indirectly of that employee's refusal to do work under section 28A of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, or involvement in the activities of a union in terms of section 107"“

(a) refuses or omits to offer or afford to that employee the same terms of employment, conditions of work, fringe benefits, or opportunities for training, promotion, and transfer as are made available for other employees of the same or substantially similar qualifications, experience, or skills employed in the same or substantially similar circumstances; or
(b) dismisses that employee or subjects that employee to any detriment, in circumstances in which other employees employed by that employer on work of that description are not or would not be dismissed or subjected to such detriment; or
(c) retires that employee, or requires or causes that employee to retire or resign.

(2) For the purposes of this section, detriment includes anything that has a detrimental effect on the employee's employment, job performance, or job satisfaction.

(3) This section is subject to the exceptions set out in section 106.

105 Prohibited grounds of discrimination for purposes of section 104
(1) The prohibited grounds of discrimination referred to in section 104 are the prohibited grounds of discrimination set out in section 21(1) of the Human Rights Act 1993, namely:
(a) sex;
(b) marital status;
(c) religious belief';
(d) ethical belief;
(e) colour;
(f) race;
(g) ethnic or national origins;
(h) disability;
(i) age;
(j) political opinion;
(k) employment status;
(l) family status;
(m) sexual orientation.

(2) The items listed in subsection (1) have the meanings (if any) given to them by section 21(1) of the Human Rights Act 1993.

107 Definition of involvement in activities of union for purposes of section 104
(1) For the purposes of section 104, involvement in the activities of a union means that, within 12 months before the action complained of, the employee"“
(a) was an officer of a union or part of a union, or was a member of the committee of management of a union or part of a union, or was otherwise an official or representative of a union or part of a union; or
(b) had acted as a negotiator or representative of employees in collective bargaining; or
(b/a) had participated in a strike lawfully; or
(c) Was involved in the formation or the proposed formation of a union; or
(d) Had made or caused to be made a claim for some benefit of an employment agreement either for that employee or any other employee, or had supported any such claim, whether by giving evidence or otherwise; or
(e) Had submitted another personal grievance to that employee's employer; or
(f) Had been allocated, had applied to take, or had taken any employment relations education leave under this Act; or
(g) Was a delegate of other employees in dealing with the employer on matters relating to the employment of those employees.

(2) An employee who is representing employees under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, whether as a health and safety representative (as the term is defined in that Act) or otherwise, is to be treated as if he or she were a delegate of other employees for the purposes of subsection (1)g.

108 Sexual harassment
(1) For the purposes of sections 103(1)(d) and 123(d), an employee is sexually harassed in that employee's employment if that employee's employer or a representative of that employer"“

(a) directly or indirectly makes a request of that employee for sexual intercourse, sexual contact, or other form of sexual activity that contains-

(i) an implied or overt promise of preferential treatment in that employee's employment; or
(ii) an implied or overt threat of detrimental treatment in that employee's employment; or
(iii) an implied or overt threat about the present or future employment status of that employee; or

(b) by"“

(i) the use of language (whether written or spoken) of a sexual nature; or
(ii) the use of visual material of a sexual nature; or
(iii) Physical behaviour of a sexual nature, - directly or indirectly subjects the employee to behaviour that is unwelcome or offensive to that employee (whether or not that is conveyed to the employer or representative) and that, either by its nature or through repetition, has a detrimental effect on that employee's employment, job performance, or job satisfaction.

(2) For the purposes of sections 103(1)(d) and 123(d), an employee is also sexually harassed in that employee's employment (whether by a co-employee or by a client or customer of the employer), if the circumstances described in section 117 have occurred.

109 Racial harassment
(1) For the purposes of sections 103(1)(e) and 123(d), an employee is racially harassed in the employee's employment if the employee's employer or a representative of that employer uses language (whether written or spoken), or visual material, or physical behaviour that directly or indirectly"“

(a) expresses hostility against, or brings into contempt or ridicule, the employee on the ground of the race, colour, or ethnic or national origins of the employee; and

(b) is hurtful or offensive to the employee (whether or not that is conveyed to the employer or representative); and

(c) has, either by its nature or through repetition, a detrimental effect on the employee's employment, job performance, or job satisfaction.

110 Duress
(1) For the purposes of section 103(1)(f), an employee is subject to duress in that employee's employment in relation to membership or non-membership of a union or employees organisation if that employee's employer or a representative of that employer directly or indirectly-

(a) makes membership of a union or employees organisation or of a particular union or employees organisation a condition to be fulfilled if that employee wishes to retain that employee's employment; or

(b) makes non-membership of a union or employees organisation or of a particular union or employees organisation a condition to be fulfilled if that
employee wishes to retain that employee's employment; or

(c) exerts undue influence on that employee, or offers, or threatens to withhold or does withhold, any incentive or advantage to or from that employee, or threatens to or does impose any disadvantage on that employee, with intent to induce that employee-

(i) to become or remain a member of a union or employees organisation or a particular union or employees organisation; or
(ii) to cease to be a member of a union or employees organisation or a particular union or employees organisation; or
(iii) not to become a member of a union or employees organisation or a particular union or employees organisation; or
(iv) in the case of an employee who is authorised to act on behalf of employees, not to act on their behalf or to cease to act on their behalf; or
(v) on account of the fact that the employee is, or, as the case may be, is not, a member of a union or employees organisation or of a
particular union or employees organisation, to resign from or leave any employment; or
(vi) to participate in the formation of a union or employees organisation; or
(vii) not to participate in the formation of a union or employees organisation.

(2) In this section and in section 103(1)(f), employees organisation means any group, society, association, or other collection of employees other than a union, however described and whether incorporated or not, that exists in whole or in part to further the employment interests of the employees belonging to it.


9.3 Settlement of Personal Grievances

Subject to clause 9.4 below, a personal grievance of any teacher to whom this agreement  applies shall be raised and dealt with in accordance with the provisions of Part Nine of the Employment Relations Act 2000.


9.4 Special Procedures When Sexual Harassment Alleged

(a) Where sexual harassment is alleged, the teacher concerned may seek the advice, counsel and support of a contact person and/or the services of a special facilitator to help resolve the problem and ensure it does not recur. Such contact persons shall be elected by the teaching staff. The names of special facilitators shall be published from time to time by the Association.

(b) If the matter is not resolved by the special facilitator or if the teacher chooses not to involve such a person, the teacher may either:

(i) Take a complaint to the Human Rights Commission; or
(ii) Invoke the personal grievance procedures of the Employment Relations Act 2000.

9.5 Disputes

Disputes about the interpretation, application or operation of this agreement shall be resolved in accordance with Part 10 of the Employment Relations Act 2000.

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