Escalating unresolved issues

Employers and employees can take further action if they cannot resolve employment problems.

When a matter has not been resolved through or other processes, an employee or employer may take the matter to the Employment Relations Authority, the Employment Court or the Human Rights Tribunal.

Employment Relations Authority (ERA)

If you have not been able to resolve the problem by talking to the other person or by using mediation, you can ask the ERA to make a binding decision.

How the ERA can help

The ERA is independent. It helps to resolve employment relationship problems by looking into the facts and making a decision based on the merits of the case, not on technicalities.

Any employer or employee who has an employment problem can apply to have their case heard at the ERA. There is a cost to apply to the ERA — you will find information about this on their website.

If you have not tried mediation, the ERA will usually recommend that you do so. Even if you have tried mediation, the ERA may get you to try again if they believe it might solve the problem.


The ERA’s process is more formal than mediation but less formal than a court. You can represent yourself or have someone support or represent you.

After investigation, the ERA will make a decision about your case. This determination is a public document unless the applicant or respondent has been granted a non-publication order. The decision is final and legally enforceable.

To resolve a problem, the ERA can require the employee or the employer to take some action. This might include ordering:

  • that the employee be reinstated on a temporary or permanent basis
  • reimbursement for lost wages
  • compensation to be paid
  • compliance — for example, paying wages or holiday pay owed
  • payment of costs to the successful party.

For more information on the ERA and its processes, see:

Employment Relations Authority(external link)

ERA facilitation of collective bargaining

The ERA can also assist by facilitating bargaining. This can only happen in specific circumstances and if a party to the bargaining requests it.

Collective bargaining

Employment Court

If you are unhappy with a written decision by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), you can challenge it in the Employment Court.

The ERA and Employment Court websites provide guidance on what you can challenge and how. You must apply to the Employment Court within 28 days of the ERA’s written decision being made.

In some cases, the ERA may refer your case directly to the Employment Court without it being investigated by the ERA. This might be when:

  • your case involves an important question of law (for example, if it’s the first case to interpret new legislation)
  • the nature and urgency of the case means that it’s in the public interest for the Employment Court to hear it first
  • the Court is already hearing a case between the same parties that involves the same or similar matters.

Although you may represent yourself, we recommend that you seek legal advice and representation when going to the Employment Court.

For more about the Employment Court, including how to apply, what happens during a hearing, and judgements and costs, see the Employment Court website.

Employment Court of New Zealand(external link)

Human Rights Commission Te Kāhui Tika Tangata

The Human Rights Commission Te Kāhui Tika Tangata offers a free and confidential dispute resolution service for complaints in employment about unlawful discrimination and other prohibited behaviours under the Human Rights Act.

The Commission can help resolve complaints relating to breaches of human rights and privacy in employment, for example:

  • unlawful discrimination
  • sexual or racial harassment. 

Bullying, harassment and discrimination

See the Human Rights Commission Te Kāhui Tika Tangata website for more on the types of complaints they can help with, and how to make a complaint.

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission(external link)

Human Rights Review Tribunal

The Human Rights Review Tribunal is an independent judicial body, separate from the Human Rights Commission Te Kāhui Tika Tangata, Employment Relations Authority, and the Employment Court. The Tribunal hears claims relating to breaches of the:

Human Rights Act 1993 (external link)

Privacy Act 2020(external link)

Health and Disability Commissioner Act 1994(external link)

See the Human Rights Review Tribunal website for more information.

Human Rights Review Tribunal (external link)

You cannot claim in both the Human Rights Review Tribunal and ERA.

If you have a workplace problem that could be the subject of a personal grievance under the Employment Relations Act 2000 or a complaint under the Human Rights Act 1993, you must choose which process to go through. Once you have complained at the ERA or the Human Rights Review Tribunal, you may not then start proceedings with the other.

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