Employers, employees and unions have to deal with each other in good faith. 

Dealing with each other in good faith allows parties to resolve problems early on, before they turn into bigger problems.  Treating each other with good faith also helps ensure that everyone is treated fairly. 

The parties must not act in a misleading or deceptive manner towards each other; parties must be responsive and communicative; and employers should consult employees prior to making any decision which could result in them losing their job. 

Good faith also includes:

  • Being honest and open with each other;
  • Raising any issues as soon as they arise;
  • Working together towards a resolution;
  • Providing each other with access to information that is relevant;
  • Responding to issues that have been raised in a prompt fashion;
  • Being open-minded and genuinely taking into account the perspective or feedback of the other party; and
  • Treating each other with respect. 

Employees have to act in good faith to employers as well. 

If you are unhappy about something at work, you have an obligation to raise this with your employer, so that they have the opportunity to address it.  If you do not raise the issue in good time, you may not be able to bring it up later. 

If you need help raising an issue, you are allowed to have a support person or representative help you. 

An especially important time to be treated with good faith is when your job is at stake.  Your position might be at risk as a result of a restructure, allegations of poor performance, or due to allegations of misconduct. 

As soon as an employer becomes aware that your employment might be affected, they should let you know.  The employer must give you details about the proposal for restructure and/or allegations, including complaints made about you, statements collected from other employees, evidential documents, video footage etc.  Everything that the employer will take into account in making their decision about your position must be provided to you for comment.

An opportunity to comment is very important, because without it, no decision can be relied on as fair.  Sometimes, when an employee has an opportunity to explain their actions, it takes on a different meaning.  Something seen on surveillance footage may look sinister but have an innocent explanation.    

One way to ensure that parties treat each other with good faith is to create a culture of support and open communication in the workplace.  If you do however run into issues, mediation might help the parties to resolve the issue with the help of a trained person to mediate the problem. 

To learn more about mediation click here.

https://www.raineycollins.co.nz/your-resources/articles/mediation--what-is-it-and-why-is-it-worth-considering.html

Jaenine Badenhorst

Family Lawyer
Wellington