The Employment Laws and Tribunal process in New Zealand is often fraught for Employers and Employees alike.
In some instances, the reasons for dismissal are rejected by the ERA – in others the way the process was conducted has lead to awards and compensation.
In a recent case, the tribunal hearing has allowed secret recordings to be used as evidence of malpractice and bullying.
For Kiwi businesses, which typically tend to be Small to Medium, personalities, poor or non existent policies around workplace standards and simple lack of knowledge of all the rules can lead to very difficult cases which go to the ERA.
Whilst business (and Associations) need to make every effort to be compliant, they can be benefitted by a good Employment Dispute Insurance cover, which can provide funds for representation, preparation and time loss costs and any awards made against an employer.
For a confidential discussion around your business needs, contact RDi on 094202798
The Herald reporting on case at the weekend says:
The Employment Relations Authority has agreed to accept secret recordings of work colleagues as evidence in a Dispute Tribunal case.
A Christchurch hairdresser covertly recorded a private conversation between her workmates at Synergy Hair in Riccarton late last year,saying it was to prove she was the subject of gossip and bullying in the workplace.
The Employment Relations Authority recently deemed the recording admissible – despite the fact no party to the conversation knew they were being recorded, overturning previous rulings that at least one person had to be aware the conversation was being recorded for a recording to be admissible.
In its decision the ERA acknowledged the decision was unusual: “Recording others secretly when the person recording is not participating in a meeting or conversation with them is generally not admissible.”
She also recorded a meeting between herself and salon owner Kelvyn Glading where she was given a letter outlining a disciplinary process and suspension was discussed. This recording was made without Glading’s knowledge but was also admissible.
Some lawyers say the case sets a worrying precedent and cautioned bosses to cement strict policies to protect privacy and water-cooler conversations.
Lawyers from Simpson Grierson said accepting a recording where no party was aware they were being recorded set a worrying precedent and warned employers of the need to protect themselves and their employees by having clear policies around filming and recording in the workplace.
Employers could pre-empt the risk of secret recordings during disciplinary processes by recording the meetings themselves and asking whether anyone wished to record the meeting.
“Employers and employees need to be careful and precise with what they say … and they need to be aware other employees may be recording them.”
“Our advice is to put clear policies in place and to make clear making recordings in the workplace is not acceptable behaviour.”
A spokesperson for the Employment Relations Authority spokesperson said evidence was accessed on a case by case basis.
“There is no necessary flow on from one case to another.”
The case Firman v Insyn Ltd (trading as Synergy Hair) has been heard by the ERA but the decision has not been released.
The full Herald story can be found here