Working at the forefront of employment law
Our national employment team advises public and private bodies in all areas of employment law, including personal grievances, litigation, union issues (negotiations, disputes and mediations), redundancies, restructuring, senior executive employment, exit negotiations, post-employment conduct, and health and safety. We regularly appear in mediations and in New Zealand’s Employment Relations Authority, Employment Court, and Court of Appeal.
We regularly assist domestic and international clients with employment-related advice in the due diligence and implementation phases of corporate transactions, including large M&A transactions and significant restructurings. This includes matters such as the transfer of employment contracts, exposure to employees that may not be transferred, and due diligence on health and safety policies.
Health and safety
Chapman Tripp has an extensive track record of advising on health and safety (H&S) matters in New Zealand. We advise some of New Zealand’s largest businesses on their H&S obligations and issues. Our H&S team work across all sectors of industry including those where employees work in high risk environments such as construction, manufacturing, forestry and mining.
We are experienced at advising employers on H&S investigations and prosecutions, whether directly or through insurers. We have been involved in a significant number of high profile H&S cases involving serious harm and workplace fatalities.
Recommended for employment work by independent legal directories Chambers Asia Pacific 2016, Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2016 and Asia Law Profiles 2016.
We have advised
- KordaMentha as receivers on the employment-related aspects of significant receiverships and subsequent sale processes, including that of MediaWorks and Southern Cross Forest Product (SCFP). Our work for SCFP included obtaining urgent orders from the High Court to extend the timeframe for the receivers to make employment-related decisions
- private equity groups on senior executive remuneration and retention arrangements, in the context of large corporate acquisitions
- South Canterbury Finance – providing ongoing employment advice to the receivers of South Canterbury Finance in the wake of its collapse
- Mighty River Power, one of New Zealand’s largest electricity companies, in relation to a prosecution against it under the Health & Safety in Employment Act 1992, regarding an accident that occurred on one of its worksites
- multiple clients, including Sanford and New Zealand Steel, in relation to health and safety prosecutions arising out of workplace fatalities or severe injuries. One such example is acting for Safe Air, a subsidiary of Air New Zealand specialising in aviation maintenance and repair, in relation to an employee killed while servicing an aircraft engine
- New Zealand Aluminium Smelters, the largest single operating site in New Zealand, on unique employment-related issues, ranging from highly flexible and developmental career structures, to stringent health and safety in employment measures, including workplace drug testing
- various clients (including Fletcher Distribution, Fuji Xerox and Marsh Limited) on urgent injunction proceedings in relation to disputes with former employees over alleged breaches of their duties of fidelity, duties of good faith, obligations to keep information confidential and to disclose conflicts of interest, and restraints of trade
- clients on various employee disputes including acting for clients at mediation, in the Employment Relations Authority, the Employment Court and on applications for urgent reinstatement
- Peter and Anya Hutson, directors and shareholders of Bay Audiology, in relation to a contentious employment dispute in the context of a broader commercial battle between shareholders
- various clients on the employment-related aspects of some of New Zealand’s largest and most significant M&A deals during 2013 and 2014, including: Bluescope Steel’s NZ$120m purchase of Fletcher Steel Limited’s rolling and wire mills; Oji Holdings Corp and Innovation Network Corporation of Japan’s NZ$1.037b acquisition of Carter Holt Harvey’s pulp and paper packing businesses; and Australia’s Transpacific Industries (Pty) Limited’s NZ$950m sale of its New Zealand business to a wholly owned subsidiary of the Beijing Capital Group
- the Earthquake Commission (EQC) on a range of employment matters arising from the Canterbury earthquakes, including personal grievances, management training, and issues resulting from the extensive increase in numbers of staff contractors
- Airways Corporation of New Zealand Limited, one of the world's leading providers of commercial air navigation services, on a wide range of employment matters, all underpinned by the very demanding and technical aviation context in which Airways Corporation operates
- Ryman Healthcare, one of New Zealand’s top ten listed companies over the last decade, in relation to contentious and non-contentious employment issues affecting its 26 retirement villages and 2500 employees
- Ebos Group, a listed healthcare and animal care wholesaler and distributor with 2200 employees in New Zealand and Australia, on a wide range of employment issues
- Ports of Auckland on its negotiations in its highly-publicised, long-running industrial dispute with the Maritime Union of New Zealand
- major New Zealand corporates on highly sensitive matters related to the exit of key business leaders, including advice related to bonus payments, personal grievances, termination processes and restraint of trade issues
- various New Zealand District Health Boards (DHBs) to enable them to continue to provide acceptable levels of healthcare in the face of threatened industrial action. We also advised the Midland DHB on a precedent-setting question of law involving the ratification of a collective employment agreement
- leading New Zealand corporate and industrial clients on health and safety issues including: health and safety systems and the compliance with the law; directors' duties following the release of the Royal Commission findings into the Pike River Tragedy; appropriate earthquake prone building policies following the Canterbury earthquakes; and responses to investigations and prosecutions, including representing them in court, in the wake of serious harm incidents and workplace fatalities
- Valley Longwall International, a supplier of specialised equipment services to the mining industry, and associated companies in relation to the Pike River Coal disaster, representing them at the subsequent inquests, Royal Commission of Inquiry, and H&S prosecution. Valley Longwall lost three workers in the coal mine explosions
- acting for the New Zealand Mines Rescue Trust in the Royal Commission hearing into the Pike River tragedy