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Time frame to lodge a personal grievance

90 Day time frame for taking a personal grievance 

Unjustified dismissal

If your employment has been terminated, you have 90-days from the date of termination to raise a personal grievance. The calculation starts from your last day of employment, not from the date you received notice of termination.

If you were employed, but on garden leave, during your notice period, your 90-day period will start on the last day of your notice period.

There  is case law to support this, In New Zealand Automobile Association Inc v McKay [1996] 2 ERNZ 622 (EC), the employee was dismissed with one month’s notice. He raised an unjustified dismissal PG during the notice period, but the Employment Court held this was not possible because his employment had not been formally terminated. During that period, he could only have raised a disadvantage PG. This means the employee had to wait until after the termination had actually occurred.

If you were paid notice in lieu, your 90-days should apply from the last day of when your notice period would have been.

Again, this is shown in case law, In Poverty Bay Electrical Power Board v Atkinson [1992] 3 ERNZ 413 (EC), the employee was dismissed and paid in lieu of working out his notice (3 months). He raised his personal grievance four months after that payment was made. This was held to be in time, because the 90-day period started at the end of when the three-month notice period would have ended. Which meant he had only taken one month to raise the personal grievance.


With disadvantages, the 90-day period starts from the date at which the employee becomes aware that they have been disadvantaged. If this is a one-off event, this can be easy. However, where there is an ongoing failure of the employer, the 90-day period starts at the end of that ongoing failure.

For example, if you’re claiming unjustified disadvantage in relation to a suspension, the 90-days would start from the last day of your suspension.

If your disadvantage is directly related to your dismissal, you do not need to raise it as a separate personal grievance. The Employment Relations Authority has the power to turn your unjustified dismissal claim into an unjustified disadvantage claim if it considers you don’t meet the threshold for unjustified dismissal, but that there were nonetheless some disadvantages.

 Sexual harassment 

With effect from 13 June 2023, the time frame for taking a personal grievance on ground of sexual harassment was extended from 90 days to 12 months.

 This means employees have 12 months to raise a grievance about sexual harassment they have experienced in their employment from the moment it happened, or the date they became aware of it, whichever is later.

The 12-month timeframe applies from 13 June 2023 and is not retrospective. This means it applies only if the alleged sexual harassment happened on or after that day. If it happened before, then the former 90-day rule applies.

Out of time

If you’re clearly out of time, there are options to raise a personal grievance: however, you must show that there are “exceptional circumstances.” This will include situations where you physically could not have raised a personal grievance (because you were in hospital, for example), or where you gave a legal representative instructions to raise a personal grievance but they failed to do so.

This is a difficult area, and it is only in rare situations where a personal grievance can be raised out of time. However, it may well be that you’ve already raised a personal grievance: technically, a personal grievance is any correspondence which alerts the employer to an employment relations problem. It doesn’t need to say: “This is a personal grievance.”

Have a look at your employment agreement: there should be some provisions in there about raising an employment relationship problem. Have you met those conditions. Sometimes it is easier to claim that you’ve already raised a personal grievance, and that you’re seeking to provide clarity and progress the personal grievance.

This information is not a substitute for legal advice, we recommend that if you identify problems in the areas listed you consult with someone before acting on any material you have read.