7 Sep 2020

Employment advocates overwhelmed by demand

From Morning Report, 6:19 am on 7 September 2020

The system which deals with employment complaints has been described by someone working on the front line as "straining at the seams".

The impact of Covid-19 on employment disputes has reportedly brought about a doubling of the workload for everyone - from advocates to mediators; labour inspectors to Employment Relations Authority members.

It's causing huge delays in the system which processes complaints and resolves them - which is done by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

When asked if this was being experienced by Ministry staff, they refused to comment.

The Chief Executive of Community Law Centres o Aotearoa, Sue Moroney, says access to justice is currently at the worst it's been for some time.

Gerard Elwell - a community advocate specialising in employment law - spoke with reporter Harry Lock, and started by explaining some of the work he's been doing as a result of Covid-19.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says they are launching an early intervention service to deal with complaints in their early stages, before both parties become entrenched in their positions.