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CategoryHuman Resources
Approved byOriginal approval unknown
Date Procedure Took Effect1 November 2007
Last approved revision26 November 2021
SponsorDirector of Human Resources
Responsible officerHR Manager, Promotions & Remuneration


To set out the services available for the resolution of employment relationship problems.

Organisational scope

The procedures apply University-wide.


Personal grievance
A type of complaint that an employee may bring against a current or former employer, as defined in the Employment Relations Act 2000.


1. Employment relationship problems

Employment relationship problems include such things as personal grievances, disputes about the interpretation or application of employment agreements, or other workplace issues that may harm the employment relationship, but do not include problems with the fixing of new terms and conditions of employment.

2. Raising the problem

If you think you have a problem in your employment, then you should raise it with your Manager or Academic Head as soon as possible, so the University can try and resolve it with you. If for any reason you feel unable to raise it with your Manager or Academic Head, you should approach another appropriate manager, Human Resources Adviser or the University Mediator. In some cases, there is a time limit on when you have to do this – see clause 6 “Personal grievances” below.

3. Representation

At any stage, you have the right to seek advice and support from your union or a representative. The University will work with you and that person to try to resolve the problem. Information may also be sought from Employment Mediation Services provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment at any time.

4. Mediation services

If we are unable to resolve the problem, then either party can contact the University Conflict Resolution and Mediation Services or the Employment Mediation Services provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for free assistance. The mediator will try to help us resolve the problem but won't make a decision as to who is right or wrong unless both parties want this.

University of Otago Conflict Resolution and Mediation Services

MBIE Employment Mediation Services

5. Employment Relations Authority

If the problem is still not resolved to your satisfaction, then you can apply to the Employment Relations Authority to have the problem investigated and a determination made. This decision can be appealed, by either party, to the Employment Court and then to the Court of Appeal.

6. Personal grievances

If your employment problem is a personal grievance (i.e. unjustified dismissal, unjustifiable disadvantage, discrimination, duress, sexual or racial harassment), then you must raise it within 90 days of the problem actually occurring or coming to your attention for the first time. A personal grievance can only be raised outside of this timeframe with the agreement of the employer, or if the Employment Relations Authority deems there to be exceptional circumstances.

You should raise any personal grievance with your Head as above. It is preferable that you put your grievance in writing, but this is not compulsory. You may ask your union or representative to raise the grievance on your behalf.

7. University of Otago Ethical Behaviour Policy

Certain types of employment relationship problems may be able to be dealt with through the University of Otago Ethical Behaviour Policy, particularly problems involving harassment.

8 Human Rights Commission procedures

If you believe you have a grievance based on discrimination or sexual or racial harassment, an alternative procedure is available through the Human Rights Commission. However, you cannot refer your grievance to both the Human Rights Commission as a complaint and to the Employment Relations Authority as a personal grievance. You have to choose one option or the other.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact:

Dan Wilson
HR Manager, Promotions & Remuneration
Tel +64 3 479 8092

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