To raise a personal grievance, employees usually need to inform their employer within 90 days of when the issue happened or when they found out about it (whichever is later). An amendment to the Employment Relations Act came into force on 13 June 2023. This amendment changes the usual time limit for raising a personal grievance to 12 months for sexual harassment, rather than 90 days.
It can be difficult for victims of sexual harassment to come forward, and 90 days does not provide victim’s sufficient time to deal with what well may be a traumatic situation, to consider their options, and to formally raise a personal grievance. Therefore, going forward, employees who experience sexual harassment after 13 June 2023 will be able to a personal grievance for sexual harassment 12 months after the action occurred, or when it came to the Employee’s attention.
Does the amendment have retrospective effect?
Importantly, the amendment does not apply retrospectively. This means if an employee was involved in an incident before 13 June 2023, then the usual 90 day time limit would apply.
Does the amendment affect employment agreements?
There is no requirement to change your existing employment agreements to reflect the changes to the law, however the new rules will apply to everyone going forward even if it is not reflected in your current employment agreements.
Moving forward, all new employment agreements should contain reference to the new rules. By law all employment agreements have to include a simple explanation on how to raise a personal grievance, this includes the time limits for doing so. If you have workplace policies for resolving workplace disputes these should be updated as well.
If you need help reviewing your employment agreements or workplace policies to reflect the new changes, get in touch with the Employment team at PRLaw at 03 211 0910.