Department of Labour – mediation services – New Zealand

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Contents

General Information

  • Official name: Department of Labour – mediation services – New Zealand
  • Country: New Zealand
  • City: Wellington
  • Type of organization: Governmental organization
  • Date of creation: -
  • Interests: Mediation
  • Fields of expertise: Labour disputes

Description

The Department of Labour’s primary role is to improve the performance of the labour market and, through this, strengthen the economy and increase the standard of living for those in New Zealand.

Missions

  • Support employers and employees to create safe, fair and rewarding workplaces;
  • Support regions and industries and employers to develop a skilled, innovative and productive workforce;
  • Research opportunities to develop the workforce and workplaces;
  • Develop our international connections by assisting the flow of people to New Zealand;
  • Influence and lead international thinking and practice on labour market, national security and refugee issues.

To ensure we work consistently towards outcomes for New Zealand, and deliver connected customer services right across the sector, the Department of Labour has created a new strategic leadership team.

Responsibilities

Responsibilities of The Department of Labour include:

  • Delivering services and information that support productive workplaces, and workforce and community participation, to employers, employees, workplaces, communities, businesses and unions;
  • Providing policy advice and analysis to government on labour and employment related matters;
  • Providing advice to government on the performance of other agencies that impact on communities and people's working lives;
  • Managing international relationships.

Mediation

The Department of Labour provides mediation services to help people resolve their employment relations problems quickly and effectively.

The Department of Labour’s first priority is to prevent employment relationship problems occurring in the first place by providing information to help employers and employees develop and maintain productive employment relationships. If there are problems that employers and employees are unable to resolve themselves, they can approach the Department of Labour to seek assistance. Assistance can be provided in a range of ways from provision of information, facilitation, educational events or programmes, or mediation.

The Department of Labour has mediation services available in offices around the country.

Mediation services are available to both employers and employees to help them identify problems and seek appropriate courses of action to resolve them.

Viewpoint: What is the Process of Mediation?

Mediation is a process in which the participants, with the assistance of a mediator, systematically isolate disputed issues in order to develop options, consider alternatives and reach agreements that will accommodate their needs. This process may occur by telephone, by email, in the workplace, or in a mediation room.

If an employer or employee has a problem which they would like resolved at short notice and the other party agrees, a mediator can offer a fast track mediation option. This option allows a short opportunity to attempt resolution (actual time frame to be determined by the mediator). If the problem isn't resolved within the time allocated, the mediator will make a final and binding decision. Agreement to this fast track process is recorded in writing at the beginning.

Reaching agreement

If the parties reach agreement (whether with the help of a mediator or not), they can ask a mediator to sign the agreement. The mediator will explain to the parties that, once signed, the agreement becomes final and binding and cannot be challenged. Such an agreement is enforceable in the Employment Relations Authority or the Employment Court, and there are penalties for breaching it.

What happens if the parties cannot agree?

If the employer and employee cannot reach agreement in mediation, they can agree (by giving written authority) to the mediator making a final and binding decision. The mediator will explain to the parties that once he or she makes a decision, that decision is enforceable and cannot be challenged. There are penalties for breaching such decisions. A party cannot later seek another determination in the Employment Relations Authority or the Employment Court.

If either or both of the parties do not want the mediator to make a decision, the problem may be taken to the Employment Relations Authority which will investigate and make a determination for the parties.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedures

Employers and employees can choose to use a private mediator or arbitrator to assist them in resolving any problems. They should, however, be aware that any settlement or decision would have no status under the Employment Relations Act. If, however, they want such a settlement or decision to be final and binding, they need to have it signed by a Department of Labour mediator.

Contact

Wellington, 7th Floor, 85 The Terrace P O Box 3705, DX SR57047 – New Zealand

Tel: 0800 20 90 20

Email: info@dol.govt.nz

Official Website

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