The Employment Relations Authority has declined an employee’s personal grievance claim because it was made outside the 90 day application period.

During New Zealand’s COVID-19 response, employees in certain fields of work were required to get vaccinated against the virus. The employee believed that this was a violation of his human rights and not part of his contract, and so refused to take the vaccine.

The employer decided to dismiss the employee due to his refusal to get the vaccine, which was required by law at the time.

The employee brought a personal grievance claim of unjustified dismissal to the Authority 91 days after the personal grievance took place.

Section 114 of the Employment Relations Act states that any personal grievance claim must be raised within 90 days of the action giving rise to the claim, or when it came to the notice of the employee. The 90 day period will start at the later of the two.

In this case, the employee raised his personal grievance claim 91 days after the action took place. The Authority found that any correspondence before the 91 days only conveyed the employee’s right to raise a claim and intention to do so in the future – not that he had actually raised a claim.

The Authority found that by the time the employee officially raised his personal grievance claim, the 90-day period had expired. The employee provided no evidence of “exceptional circumstances”, justifying the Authority to consider the claim outside of time.

The Authority rejected the application as a result.

It is important to know the correct processes surrounding the dismissal of an employee. If you are unsure about your rights and obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors