Redundancy law can be at times complicated and it is vital that you understand the ins and outs of redundancy so you can ensure you know your rights. Often people think there is a distinction between a dismissal and redundancy. There is not: Redundancy is one of a number of reasons for an employer to dismiss an employee.
If you are being made redundant it is because you employer considers your position is surplus to the needs of the business. It can never be used to unfairly dismiss someone for some other reason. You can only be made redundant for genuine commercial reasons such as your position is no longer needed, there has been a decline in available work, they need to restructure how they do things, they want to contract out work or sell or transfer part of the employer’s business.
Redundancy law says your employer cannot use redundancy as a way to dismiss you for reasons relating to your personality, performance, reliability or age (there is no compulsory retirement age in New Zealand). Your employer can also never put pressure on you to resign or make your work situation unbearable for you. If this happens you may have grounds to file a personal grievance claim as it is forced resignation or constructive dismissal.
If your employer is intending to remove staff they are legally required to tell you what they are proposing to do and how many staff would be laid off under the proposal, which jobs would be cut and how they will run the redundancy process which includes how they will decide who will lose their jobs. They must also give you time to think over and comment on the criteria given. Most employment agreements will set out guidelines for what the employer should do in the case of redundancy. Some employment agreements will outline a redundancy payment but they are not legally required to hand out redundancy payments if it is not stated in the contract.
You employment agreement will most likely define what protection you have from redundancy. There are certain workers that have extra protection if a business changes owners and or are restructured. These workers include cleaners, food catering workers, orderlies in hospitals or rest homes, laundry workers in hospitals, rest homes or educational institutions and caretakers in educational institutions. You can challenge your dismissal in a number of ways if you believe you have been unfairly made redundant. You can raise a personal grievance claim, seek help from a mediator or take your case to the Employment Relations Authority or Employment Court if you cannot come to an agreement with your employer.