Employment Law

Whether you're an employee or an employer, managing an employment dispute can be difficult and also emotional. And you will want a clear resolution. We can help you alleviate the stress of the situation by working hard to get a speedy and clear result - and at an affordable price.

We can also help you with the complex issues of workplace law, including the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 that comes into force on Monday, 4 April 2016.

If you have an employment law issue, something has gone wrong with your job or you're having some challenges with an employee, you'll want to get some timely, expert advice. And you'll want comfort to know your problem is in safe hands. If you become very anxious about a situation, we an step in immediately to help diffuse any tension that has built up.

What will it cost?

Providing accessible and affordable legal advice to our clients is important for us.

We offer a 20-minute free no-obligation consultation service where you can find out what your situation involves from a legal standpoint, and we can give you an estimate of what our fee would be - so they are no surprises.

If you'd like to know more, please call us on 04 499 4014 send us an email from the contact form below.

The easy way to find out is to call us. Let's have a five-minute no-obligation chat where we'll give you some straightforward and fair advice

In New Zealand every employee must have a written employment agreement? this is the law. Your employment agreement must be signed by you and your employer. They are obliged to keep a copy of this, and we'd recommend you do this too.

You may, however, want to have some independent advice before you sign your employment contract or to discuss an employment offer. Your potential employer must give you reasonable time in which to do this.

We can review your proposed contract or offer to ensure that all relevant points are covered and, most importantly, that you're happy with what is being proposed.

Having an employment contract that you're happy and comfortable with, will give you confidence in your new job as well as providing a very good start with your new employer. It will also help prevent misunderstandings that can easily escalate into an employment dispute.

With the myriad of changes that have been made to the Holidays Act 2003 over the last few years, it's not surprising that many employers (and also employees) are confused as to what is a working day, a public holiday or a day in lieu?

If you're unsure about any holiday situation, simply pick up the phone to ask our advice.

Every employee in this country has the right to raise a personal grievance complaint if they believe they've been mistreated, discriminated against, unjustifiably dismissed or been subject to any form of duress. You must lay a personal grievance within 90 days of the alleged occurrence.

We can provide you with fair, straightforward and affordable advice (for both employees and employers) on your chances of success, the procedures, and give you guidelines around any payout or costs that the personal grievance may bring.

We have an excellent track record in resolving personal grievance. If you have been dismissed unfairly, or you think you may have been subject to any form of discrimination, unjustifiable action or duress, do contact us for a no-obligation assessment of the situation.

Any restructure of a business brings uncertainty for all, particularly if there's a possibility you could be facing redundancy.

Whether you receive a redundancy payment will depend on whether there is a provision for that in your employment contract. Otherwise a business isn't required to pay you any redundancy compensation.

The law requires a redundancy to be genuine, reasonable, and for a fair process to be followed. If not, you can raise a personal grievance claim.

If your business is considering a restructure - which almost always involves some redundancies - it's worth giving us a call to check you're getting the processes right.

If you're an employee facing redundancy, or have been made redundant, and you don't think it's been fairly done, get in touch with us. We'll review the procedures and give our view on whether you think you have a valid claim on your employer.

Workplace bullying is not uncommon in New Zealand workplaces. It's important that if you think you're being bullied, or you have an employee in that situation, you act fast before it escalates. Bullying can be very disruptive in workplaces, so it's important that any instances are dealt with swiftly.

If you think you're being bullied at work, or you have an employee in that situation, we can give you advice on how best to respond.

Having to go through a disciplinary action is very stressful and sensitive for both employee and employer.

For employers, it's absolutely vital that you carry out all the legal consultation steps fairly and within the letter of the law, and in the timeframes required.

We can help you ensure your business processes are robust and timely.

If you're an employee facing possible disciplinary action, we can not only review your employer's procedures, but also act as an advocate for you during the process.

At Bell & Co we have a very good name for negotiating excellent outcomes for our clients, whether it's face-to-face with your employer or employee, or it's in a more formal mediation environment.

We prefer to work in this way, rather than go to court. It helps preserve relationships, and it's also faster and much more affordable for everyone.

When you're the employer in the small to medium sized business, employment issues can be overwhelming and time-consuming, and take up far too much time when you need to actually run your business.

Simply contact us on 04 494 4014 or send us an email from the contact form below and Bell & Co will provide you with:

Employment Helpline

A free 10-minute phone call to us on any employment relations, human resources, or health and safety matter. Our office is open from 8:30 am-6pm Monday-Friday.

Employment Documentation Review

  • We will review (for free) your employment related documentation, policies and procedures so that they all comply with current legislation.
  • If any of the above need updating or new documentation is needed, we will provide you with a cost estimate to get these completed.

Advocating for You

If you need further advice or action, we can work with you at a very affordable hourly rate to:

  • Defend personal grievances
  • Mediate on your behalf
  • Provide representation at an Employment Relations Authority or Employment Court hearings
  • Advise on restructuring and redundancy situations
  • Help enforce post employment restraint of trade issues, and
  • Work with you on collective bargaining situations.

If you'd like to know more, please call us on 04 494 4014 send us an email from the contact form below.

Family law and relationship property issues are extremely sensitive for everyone involved. Our clients tell us that our level of care, concern and support when they have family law problems has been second to none at a time when they're feeling most vulnerable.

As family law experts we can give advice when you're entering into a de facto relationship, marriage or civil union, or if you're ending that relationship. We can advise you on relationship property matters, childcare issues and parenting orders; we have expertise in dealing successfully in complex relationship property matters.

We are highly experienced family lawyers and can help you with:

  • Domestic violence and Protection Orders
  • Deceased estates and protecting your family's interests
  • Issues regarding family trusts
  • Negotiation, mediation and settlement conferences
  • Most hearings in the Family and High Courts

Family law issues are always emotional, often stressful and can also be quite contentious. We are here to help you not only find resolution to these issues, but also will give you support throughout this time.

If you'd like to know more, please call us on 04 494 4014 or send us an email from the contact form below.

Dividing your property fairly when your relationship ends can be one of the most emotional and traumatic times of your life. Independent legal advice for both parties is essential, and the law requires this.

Although the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 provides for a 50:50 property split, there can be difficulties when:

  • One of you has brought a greater proportion of assets to the relationship
  • It's unclear whether some property is separate or relationship property
  • One of you is using a trust to protect specific assets
  • Family inheritances or family gifts have to be factored in and/or
  • You may have to sell your family home in order to release relationship property funds.

We are experts in navigating the way through these complex issues and reaching resolution.

Ending a marriage or civil union, for whatever reason, is always a difficult time. We can help you draft a separation agreement, and negotiate with your partner and their lawyer. And When the time comes, we can help you arrange a formal dissolution of your relationship.

When you have separated from your partner and you're unable to meet your financial needs and become self-supporting, you may be eligible for spousal or partner maintenance. This maintenance requires your partner to agree to financially support you for a specific period of time.

If you think you may be eligible for financial support from your former partner, or believe that you may be required to pay some maintenance to him or her, please call us so we can advise on your particular situation.

After a separation, couples with children will need to agree on who the children will live with and all the arrangements around their daily lives.

Known formerly as 'custody', the 'day-to-day care' arrangements for your children must be agreed with your partner. If the children are old enough, their wishes and views can be taken into consideration.

Usually these arrangements are agreed amicably or after some negotiation. If, however, negotiations reach an impasse, we are experienced in drafting Parenting Orders for the Family Court. The interests of your children are foremost in the court's mind,

Without notice

If you are worried about your children's safety, whether it be physical safety or psychologically, or your former partner has moved your children to another location without your consent, this needs urgent attention. We can guide you through an application for an urgent 'without notice' Parenting Order from the Family Court.

Please call us immediately if this is happening to your children.

On notice

If you are comfortable with the safety of your children but you disagree with the previously agreed parenting arrangements, you can apply to the Family Court 'on notice'.

This will involve you attending a Parenting through Separation course, and you will also be required to attend a Family Dispute Resolution mediation before the Family Court gets involved.

If you are getting married, or you are in (or are considering) a serious relationship you may want to think about whether you want to keep your own personal property (that was acquired before your relationship began) as separate from that of your partner.

The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 permits partners or spouses to 'contract out' of the 'normal' 50:50 asset split by signing a contracting out agreement which is also known as a 'section 21' or 'pre nup'.

Bringing this topic up with your dearly beloved is likely to be rather sensitive; you may want to talk with us before you raise it with your partner. We can help you give valid, and sensible, reasons so you can explain these easily and comfortably to him or her.

Most disputes can be solved with skilful negotiation or mediation - and we prefer it this way. It's faster, cheaper and takes less toll on you emotionally.

If, however, no agreement can be reached this way, we are expert advocates who can represent your interests in the District Court or High Court.

Our disputes and civil litigation experience includes:

  • Negotiation and mediation
  • Debt recovery
  • Bankruptcy and insolvency disputes
  • Company litigation, including disputes between directors and shareholders
  • Body corporate disputes
  • Property disputes, including enforcing the terms of Agreements for Sale and Purchase or leases
  • Leaky buildings
  • Breach of contracts claims
  • Consumer law and fair trading disputes
  • Injunctions or emergency applications
  • Intellectual property and trademark disputes
  • Representation before professional disciplinary bodies, and
  • Claims for negligence.

If you have a dispute, or think a dispute may be looming, do contact us so we can meet to scope outthe situation and give you the appropriate advice.

If you'd like to know more, please call us on 04 494 4014 or send us an email from the contact form below.

Providing you with high quality legal advice at an affordable price is important to us at Bell & Co.

After you've explained your particular situation to us, we can give you an estimate of what it may cost. This takes into account the complexity of the issue, the timeframe involved and the expertise required to resolve the situation. We'll also ensure it includes any out-of-pocket expenses such as filing fees. And we'll remember to include the GST - many lawyers forget to do this. So there should be no surprises for you.

In a number of situations, we can offer a fixed fee at the outset.

We offer a free initial 20-minute discussion on what we think it will cost, if you require this.

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