Individual Services

We have represented employees in employment related matters for over 15 years.  Accordingly our team has a wealth of knowledge of employment practices and the laws relating to rights employees can expect to enjoy in the workplace.

Employees do not always possess the extensive resources that many employers do in dealing with employment matters. 

We offer the resources and capability to help employees understand their rights and obligations in the employment environment.  Our advocacy expertise includes personal grievances, interim reinstatement, compliance orders, injunctions, strikes and lockouts, and all employment related claims.

Employment Relationship Problems

We offer advice and support on all aspects relating to employment relationship problems. Employment disputes affect all parties involved and can be both emotionally and financially taxing. Our team will provide sound and experienced advice to you in order to resolve any matter in a timely manner and attain the desired outcome.

We can help you with:


We provide advice on all relevant aspects of employment disciplinary law and practice, including how to respond to disciplinary processes initiated or allegations made by an employer. We can assist you throughout the entire disciplinary process, ensuring that your rights are protected.


Employment relationships can sometimes be difficult. Where employees feel they are being subjected to disadvantage in their employment or have been unjustifiably dismissed, they may have grounds to bring a personal grievance against the employer. We offer advice about whether there are grounds to bring a grievance and how to proceed with one where necessary. We can represent you throughout the process of a personal grievance claim, including writing a claim and negotiating with the employer, right through to settlement. Our skilled team will help to ensure that what can often be a difficult and stressful process is resolved as smoothly and quickly as possible.


We have considerable experience in advising clients regarding mediation. More often than not a personal grievance or a disciplinary issue will end up in mediation and we can represent you and assist you in working towards a positive and constructive consensus. Our services include meeting with you to discuss the relevant issues related to your case, preparing mediation submissions and attending mediation hearings with you as your representative.


We offer advocacy services from the outset of any employment relationship problem right through to its conclusion, which will sometimes involve proceedings in the Employment Relations Authority, the Employment Court and on occasion other Courts up to the Supreme Court. Such proceedings involve a considerable amount of procedural and administrative work and we undertake this in conjunction with the preparation and presentation of clients’ substantive claims. We have proven success and experience in the area of representing employees before the Authority and the courts.


See ‘Collective Bargaining’.

Performance Management Issues

Increasingly employers are implementing comprehensive processes for managing employee performance. These processes can help to ensure a high quality of output, promote health and safety and work/life balance and help to ensure that employment problems do not accumulate unnoticed. They can in some cases however be complex and give rise to employment issues. The team at Cullen provides advice on how to best deal with performance management issues, from when they are raised to their resolution. If you are concerned about a process your employer is following, have a question about compliance or are experiencing a performance issue then we can provide sound independent legal advice for you.

Individual/Collective Employment Agreements and Contractor Agreements

On accepting employment at any workplace, employees generally have the option of becoming party to an individual employment agreement or becoming a union member and accordingly party to a collective agreement, if one is available. The terms of your employment will depend on which type of agreement you decide to become employed under.

It is important to fully comprehend the terms of your employment agreement as it will determine how your day to day work operates and confirm the obligations both you and your employer are undertaking. There are minimum statutory entitlements you must be given as an employee, and anything additional must be agreed to. It is important, for certainty or if you are unsure of what you are signing, to get independent legal advice. We can tell you about the benefits or drawbacks of signing up to any individual or collective agreement. We can also advise whether an agreement is legally and practically sound and whether you need to negotiate the terms with your employer before you accept it.

In addition, we are equipped to answer any questions you have about an agreement once you have signed it, for example how to vary the terms at a later stage, in particular if the day to day operation of your job has varied from what you originally agreed to.

Collective Bargaining & Industrial Action

There are strict laws prescribing employer and employee responsibilities in relation to bargaining for a collective agreement. For example, all the parties involved in a bargaining process must operate in accordance with the principles of good faith which underpin the Employment Relations Act 2000. Employers and unions must conclude a collective agreement unless there is a genuine reason based on reasonable grounds not to do so.

We provide:

  • Advice about how employees can join a union and which union to join
  • Advice about collective bargaining processes
  • Advice about single party and multi-party bargaining
  • Advice about what must be in a collective agreement
  • Mediation services during negotiation
  • Advice about the requirements to be fulfilled by the union or employee after an agreement has been ratified

Sometimes when a collective agreement is being negotiated or after it has been ratified, employers and unions disagree on the terms. This may lead to employees striking or engaging in other forms of industrial action. We provide advice and support on employees and union’s rights and obligations in these situations. There are several things employees must be aware of when engaging in industrial action, for example the rules around whether a strike is lawful, and the procedures relating to strikes and other forms of industrial action, such as fulfilling the relevant notice periods for strikes in essential services.

Bullying & Harassment

Unfortunately, allegations of bullying and harassment sometimes arise in places of employment. These situations must be dealt with quickly and effectively to ensure the safety of employees and their protection in the workplace. Bullying or harassment of any kind by employers or co-workers is unacceptable. In the case of employers, it may lead to constructive dismissal claims. We can advise you on claims of bullying, sexual or racial harassment or harassment of any kind, and advise you about the processes involved in addressing them.

Our advocacy includes:

  • Helping you to determine whether to proceed with a complaint
  • The making of a formal complaint
  • Advice about how to deal with the parties during the process of resolving the claim
  • Representation at meetings and/or mediation
  • Advice about your options when considering the future of your employment.

We understand that bullying and harassment are often significant hurdles in the life an employee and we aim to resolve these issues in a timely and sensitive manner.

Health & Safety

Employers have enforceable responsibilities under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, the good faith principles of the Employment Relations Act 2000, and their responsibilities as prescribed in an employment agreement, to ensure that they provide a safe employment environment for employees to work in. Their responsibilities include the identification and elimination of hazards, training and supervision for the prevention of harm, and the recording and notification of accidents. If you are concerned that an employer is not fulfilling its responsibilities, or you are experiencing harmful physical or psychological symptoms such as stress, we will provide legal advice about how to exercise your rights and resolve the situation. It is important that employers are aware of and are observing their obligations in relation to the safety of all of their employees. Raising health and safety concerns is likely to improve not only your safety but the safety of your co-workers. Resolving these issues also tends to benefit the organisation as a whole in the long term.

Restructuring & Redundancy

If you are involved in a restructuring or redundancy situation, we have the expertise to assist you in dealing with the processes involved, to advise you about your entitlements, and to provide support for any problems which might arise. We can advise you on whether an employer has followed the required procedures in a redundancy and whether they have undertaken an adequate consultation process. It is important to note that some employees have different employment protections in restructuring/redundancy situations than others. We can assist you in determining which protections apply to your situation. We can also, if necessary, bring a claim against an employer who has breached its obligations in the execution of a restructuring or redundancy situation.

Your Rights

Employment law extends across all aspects of employment and confers significant responsibilities on both employers and employees. There are a number of statutory minimums in relation to the terms and conditions of employment and there is a significant amount of legislation which prescribes certain behaviours by the parties to an employment relationship. We have the resources and the experience to ensure that you as an employee are meeting your legal obligations, and to ensure that your employer is meeting theirs.

We can advise you on your rights relating to:

  • Privacy
  • Human Rights
  • Health and Safety
  • Holidays
  • Parental Leave
  • Superannuation and Kiwisaver
  • Confidential information and restraints of trade
  • Discrimination
  • Bullying and Harassment
  • Any other employment rights

Level 9
3-11 Hunter Street
Wellington 6011
New Zealand


PO Box 24515
Manners Street
Wellington 6142
New Zealand