Labour and employment in New Zealand

Bell Gully

Bell Gully’s’ highly knowledgeable practice has expanded its corporate employment advisory and litigious offering with the arrival of experienced senior associates Sarah McFetridge in Auckland and in Wellington, Andrea Pazin, who lends her expertise acting for overseas clients and those operating within the education sector. The practice is highly acclaimed for its handling of restructuring and redundancy issues as well as industrial relations engagements, and health and safety matters. Key names in Auckland include practice head and litigator Tim Clarke, who is active on health and safety prosecutions and compliance issues, and Liz Coats, who ‘has a fantastic approach’ in relation to supporting corporate transactions, industrial relations and dispute settlement. Rosemary Wooders is praised for going ‘above and beyond to make the law accessible’. Rachael Brown is the main contact in Wellington.

Practice head(s):

Tim Clarke


‘The team is highly knowledgeable and able to provide advice in a balanced way that includes elements of risk management and commercial considerations.’

‘Liz Coats – has a fantastic approach and always provides a view to assist with our decision making.’

‘Rosemary Wooders goes above and beyond to make the law accessible. She always has time to explain concepts which enables you to build your knowledge.’

‘Provides knowledgeable and definitive advice. Responds promptly to queries – has a pragmatic approach to solving problems and proposing solutions.’

‘Tim Clarke and his team provide excellent advice and it is a pleasure working with them.’

‘Rachael Brown was outstanding. Her astuteness, approachability and quiet humour, combined with her expertise and wisdom, made a somewhat tortuous situation navigable.’

Key clients

Te Pūkenga – New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology

Ministry of Education

Rocket Lab

Department of Corrections

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing

Todd Corporation

Goodman Fielder


Hawaiian Airlines

Work highlights

  • Advised EQT Infrastructure IV Fund on its NZ$1.49 billion acquisition of NZX-listed Metlifecare by way of a scheme of arrangement, including employment aspects of due diligence and sale and purchase agreement.
  • Advised Nippon Paper on its acquisition of the Fibre business of Orora Fibre in Australia and NZ for AU$1.7 billion, including employment aspects of due diligence, sale and purchase agreement and post-completion employment matters.
  • Represented Goodman Fielder in a private prosecution brought by an injured worker who suffered injuries from a fall from height at a distribution centre.

Buddle Findlay

As ‘authoritative subject matter experts in their field’, Buddle Findlay’s sizeable team in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch has a broad national reach and provides ‘smart pragmatic advice’ to predominantly blue-chip corporate employers, in the public and private sphere on complex employment and industrial relations issues. In Wellington, Peter Chemis and Hamish Kynaston are sought after advisors to governmental clients on litigious matters and health and safety prosecutions. Auckland-based Sherridan Cook is likewise noted for his expertise in corporate restructures, redundancy and collective bargaining. He is supported by Mere King, who made partner in July 2021. In Christchurch, Susan Rowe  and senior associate Shaun Brookes ‘are outstanding practitioners in their field’.

Other key lawyers:

Mere King; Shaun Brookes


‘Authoritative expert subject matter experts in their field. Great attitude. Respond quickly to requests for assistance and smart pragmatic advice to always provide a premier client centred customer experience.’

‘Shaun Brookes and Susan Rowe are outstanding practitioners in their field. All of the team are very gracious to deal with and give adroit well thought out strategies and advice to resolve issues’

‘The individuals raise unique legal points/arguments which are not necessarily the traditional legal points that legal practitioners are commonly aware of. This is a point of difference.’

Key clients

ANZ Bank

Hauora Waikato

Mahitahi Hauora (Primary Health Entity)

Manukau Institute of Technology

Māori Television Service

Methanex New Zealand

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Ministry of Social Development

New Zealand Blood Service

New Zealand Panels Group

New Zealand Police

Work highlights

  • Advised a number of clients, such as Dulux Group, New Zealand Blood Service, New Zealand Post, Panasonic Avionics and Wellington International Airport on the workplace implications of COVID-19.

Dundas Street

Dundas Street is a 'creative and innovative’ Wellington-based employment boutique led by Susan Hornsby-Geluk, who is ‘simply a star’ in her field; she primarily acts in complex and high profile employment disputes, and has been appointed to a new Government panel as an Inquirer to lead high profile investigations. She also lends her expertise to Government agencies to provide input into the development of new law, including the recent reforms to pay equity law and the development of legislation relating to fair pay agreements. Founding partner Blair Scotland advises on workplace investigations and health and safety incidents. Ros Webby is the firms’ lead on collective bargaining within both public and private sectors, with David Traylor also acting on employment and industrial relation disputes. Senior associates Chloe Luscombe and Megan Vant are also highly recommended.

Practice head(s):

Susan Hornsby-Geluk


‘You are assured of quality service and expert advice from all members of the team. We take confidence from the fact this team is focused on employment law only and they have current and regular experience at all levels of the judicial system.’

‘The employment law practice is proactive, innovative, progressive and responsive to clients issues. Led by Susan Hornsby-Geluk, a recognised senior counsel and employment law specialist, the team are very focussed on their clients needs. They are a tight team who can pivot quickly and move at pace without compromising their clients and achieving pragmatic, acceptable outcomes.’

‘Susan Hornsby-Geluk and Blair Scotland are, without a doubt, committed to providing responsive, practical advice in a timely manner.’

‘Susan Hornsby-Geluk stands out for her ability to cut through complicated, longstanding issues and provide options of how to navigate these to achieve the best possible outcome for the organisation. Over time her advice has helped us adjust our approach to a more effective one. Megan Vant provides excellent advice in an extremely timely manner and can assist with considering options and evolving the approach.’

‘Susan Hornsby Geluk is simply a star. She has an innate ability to comprehend issues and simplify them where necessary, focusing on the objective. Her performance in Court is impressive and her ability to recall information and references obviously comes naturally to her.’

‘I mainly work with Ros Webby but have also worked with Blair Scotland in the past. Really enjoy working with both – feels like a real partnership and the advice is always on point, taking into account what we are trying to achieve.’

Key clients


Inland Revenue

Ministry of Education

Accident Compensation Commission

20 District Health Boards of NZ Central

Advisory Service

Fire and Emergency NZ

Ministry of Health

Order of St John

Ministry for Business Innovation and


Police Association of NZ

Work highlights

  • Represented Inland Revenue in a test case involving “labour hire” or “agency” workers. The union sought to argue that these types of relationships were contrary to international conventions.
  • Successfully represented the Police Association in challenging the practice of the New Zealand Police in engaging officers on a “rotational” basis, thereby allowing the employer to transfer them to different roles and locations without their consent, and without paying contractual allowances. The Employment Court found this practice to be contrary to the Policing Act.
  • Advised the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment on the Government’s flagship Fair Pay Agreement legislation which is due to be enacted in late 2021.

LangtonHudsonButcher, Lawyers

LangtonHudsonButcher, Lawyers’s team has a strong national reputation for its negotiation, mediation and advocacy work in complex disputes, including payment disputes, determination of employee status and industrial relations. Its corporate transactional practice is equally experienced, led by founding partner and ‘leader in the field of employment law’ Stephen Langton, who is a particularly skilled advisor on fiduciary duties, and Ronelle TomkinsonAndrew Schirnack is noted for his advice to employers on managing workplace issues such as alleged bullying, harassment and incompatibility. Emma Butcher and Angela Evans departed in April 2021.


‘The LHB team provide a very professional service and are really responsive timewise. They provide practical advice, and value for the client. They understand the business we are in, and what the best outcomes would be for us.

‘Andrew is pragmatic, easy to get on with, and works with us for a solution. He listens and comes up with quick and practical advice, and can always be relied upon to assist at short notice. He has worked with a number of our line managers throughout the business, and always impresses the team with his pragmatism, his guidance, his experience and his sense of humour. People feel reassured by his input in dispute resolution.’

‘Andrew Schirnack is a key trusted adviser to our business. Not only does he have an amazing knowledge of the law, but he has a total understanding of how we operate and what is important to us. Calm and commercial, a top operator.’

‘The team at HudsonLangtonButcher are the ultimate professionals but always correspond in understandable language. They are always available and can flex between each others assignments if needed.’

‘Andrew Schirnack is the best employment lawyer that I have worked with. He always takes to understand the end goal and will do everything he can to get us there. He is pragmatic and supportive.’

‘The team is made up of pragmatic practical people with a strong understanding of the law but also a realistic perspective on the employment relationship and on business. You get advice that is not just technically correct but advice that you understand how to use.’

‘Stephen Langton – I feel confident referring clients to Stephen. He takes the time to understand not just the issue at hand but also the situation in which the client finds themself. He is not afraid of telling hard truths but that doesn’t stop him then working hard to deliver the best outcome for the client. His advice has always been realistic and practical. Advice you understand how to use.

‘Ronelle Tomkinson – I feel confident referring clients to Ronelle too. I have had clients compliment me on making the introduction and on the experience that they have had in working with her. Ronelle is a careful thinker and is confident in her advice. Her guidance on what is required is always clear and concise.’

Key clients

Tourism Holdings Limited

Vector Limited

Restaurant Brands Limited

Bayleys Realty Group

GEA New Zealand Limited

Super Retail Group

Les Mills Holdings Limited

Tower Limited

DiDi Mobility (New Zealand) Limited

VF Group

Fullers Group Limited

Deloitte Limited

Vitaco Health (NZ) Limited

Work highlights

  • Represented Tourism Holdings Limited in the Court of Appeal, and now on an appeal to the Supreme Court, in the first test case on the interpretation of the provisions in the Holidays Act that apply to variable pay employees, whose pay includes commissions, overtime and alike.
  • Represented Restaurant Brands Limited, as intervener, in the Court of Appeal in relation to a case concerning employee statutory minimum entitlements brought by the Labour Inspector in the Employment Relations Authority.
  • Represented Vector Limited in a “team-move” claim in the High Court in Christchurch against two of its former employees, and their new employer.


MinterEllisonRuddWatts operates out of Wellington and Auckland. Wellington practice head Megan Richards has over 30 years’ experience working in employment law across the UK, Australia and New Zealand and applies her international background to assist large foreign and domestic employers in her consultancy and contentious work, often involving investigating and addressing complaints. In Auckland, Gillian Service is praised for her ‘implementable and practical advice’. Her key areas of work include unionised workforces, flexible working practices and the Holidays Act. In the same office, Aaron Lloyd advises on white-collar criminal and regulatory advice and litigation, often connected to employment matters, and June Hardacre is recommended for executive appointments and terminations, restraints of trade and protection of confidential information. Special counsel Emma Warden in Wellington is also noted.


‘Gillian Service has an exceptional team who are able to provide implementable and practical advice.’

‘They have an ability to understand the individual business and provide solutions and guidance that we can easily use. They really go above and beyond to help our business be successful. Gillian Service and June Hardacre are great to work with.’

‘MERW is well connected and have a great understanding of the wider context we are working in. They perform very well in front of the Board and senior management providing clear practical options underpinned by cogent explanations.’

‘The employment law team are fantastic. They were able to provide clear information during Covid at a time when nothing felt clear.’

‘Megan is a smart and pragmatic lawyer. She seems the bigger picture but is able to give me advice that is sensible, balanced and detailed enough I can act on it.’

Key clients

Johnson & Johnson

Oranga Tamariki

Crombie Lockwood



AJ Gallaugher (Crombie Lockwood)

The Royal Commission of Inquiry Into Abuse in State Care


American Express

The Warehouse Group

Department of Internal Affairs Zespri Ports of Napier

Work highlights

  • Represented Madison Recruitment as a defendant in a full bench two-week Employment Court worker status hearing under s6 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA).
  • Advised Oranga Tamariki on a variety of employment matters involving actual or potential litigation in the Employment Relations Authority and Employment Court, including advising on how to manage employees who are breaching their terms of employment or engaging in suspected misconduct and responding to grievances from employees.
  • Successfully advised and partnered with Go Bus on its strategy for collective negotiations in which its focus was to engage with workers and rebuild its relationship with them without the need for the union.

Simpson Grierson

Simpson Grierson’s leading employment practice is best known for its involvement in industrial relations, representing employers in a number of leading test cases and developing case law around union rights, industrial action and collective bargaining. The group has developed strong relationships within the education sector, and counts Independent Schools of NZ Association and Auckland University, among its clients. Practice head Phillipa Muir and key team members John Rooney, Rebecca Rendle and Samantha Turner continue to advise several large corporations on issues with inadvertent non-compliance with the Holidays Act 2003 and their obligations to remedy holiday pay underpayments. The team is also actively supporting private and public sector employers on aspects of Covid-19, such as implementing large scale restructures and responding to personal grievances, and preparing applications for employers to bring critical workers into New Zealand.

Practice head(s):

Phillipa Muir


‘They bring a highly pragmatic and skilful approach. You really don’t get the sense that they’re a business like other law firms (even though they clearly are). I think this is a reflection of the fact they have a clear idea of what their mission and focus is and therefore how they serve their client.’

‘Strong employment law knowledge alongside pragmatism and understanding of business priorities- not just theoretical, they can advise alongside what is required from a commercial influence perspective.’

Sam Turner and Mike Mercer are very responsive to the client’s needs. They also anticipate demands and have proactively provided general guidance on matters that we can disseminate within the organisation. They work very well with our in-house counsel and have very a collegial but professional approach.

Key clients

University of Auckland


Auckland District Health Board

Sport New Zealand

Department of Corrections

Wellons Inc

Southern Community Laboratories Limited (SCL)/HealthScope

Ministry of Social Development

Work highlights

  • Represented the University of Auckland in relation to a claim of unjustified dismissal from a former professor of the University, following a restructuring within the School.
  • Advising Westpac on a number of matters, such as triangular employment issues, senior executive issues and disciplinary processes, advising in relation to union related matters and collective bargaining.
  • Represented the Ministry of Social Development in difficult and sensitive disciplinary investigations where an employee’s actions were found to have amounted to serious misconduct as well as medical incapacity issues.

Anthony Harper

Anthony Harper impresses with its ‘fantastic overall knowledge’ in employment law and health and safety. Its lawyers handle contentious and non-contentious matters, working to support managers and employers in M&A transactions, investigations into bullying and harassment, and act as defence counsel to health and safety prosecution. Practice co-lead Grant Nicholson is an authority on such prosecutions by the regulator and the police, he successfully defended Smart Environmental, a waste management collection and management company, against charges of reckless conduct after a rubbish collection truck driver was killed. Kathryn McKinney co-heads the employment practice. Nicola Tiffen left in May 2021.


‘The team is great, cannot fault them. There overall knowledge is fantastic, they are effective and timely with responses, the team always deals with all matters promptly. They have good client knowledge and understanding of how the business works. The seminars the firm holds for upcoming changes are informative and extremely beneficial.’

‘Kathryn McKinney is recommended for her professionalism and pragmatic advice.’

Key clients

Hiways Group

Naylor Love Construction

Leighs Construction

McConnell Dowell Constructors

City Care

Waste Management NZ

Smart Environmental

Flick Anticimex

QBE Insurance

Work highlights

  • Representing Flick Anticimex in an investigation in which a worker was hospitalised with symptoms arising from exposure to methyl bromide.
  • Advised a specialist access equipment hire and installation business on an application to WorkSafe for an enforceable undertaking, resulting from an incident in which a roofing contractor was seriously injured.
  • Represented McConnell Dowell in an investigation and prosecution into the death of a member of the public who was struck by a concrete truck controlled by a joint venture between McConnell Dowell and Downer New Zealand.

Chapman Tripp

Chapman Tripp demonstrates adeptness in due diligence and implementation phases of corporate transactions and restructurings, drafting bespoke employment agreements and incentive schemes, all union-related matters, and disputes during an employment relationship or after its termination.

Practice head(s):

Marie Wisker

Key clients



Dentons Kensington Swan

Dentons Kensington Swan has a strong presence in the public sector, as well as in retail, energy, infrastructure, creative, transport and technology. The firm advises on various aspects of employment law, with proficiency in restraint of trade, breach of confidentiality and team move issues, as well as having extensive litigation experience. Health and safety is a developing area, with an increase in instructions and investigations with WorkSafe New Zealand. Based in Auckland, James Warren heads up the team and advises on the full range of UK and New Zealand employment law aspects; he is supported by co-head Charlotte Parkhill, who handles investigations into harassment, bullying and discrimination. Health and safety expert Greg Cain leads the Wellington team, regularly arguing cases in the Employment Court ranging from dismissals and discrimination claims to enforcement of restraints of trade. He is assisted by senior associate Renee Butler .

Other key lawyers:

Renee Butler


‘I really appreciate the pragmatic business focused solutions that the employment team. They have taken the time to get to understand my business and to ensure that their advice is tailored to my specific issues.’

‘James Warren readily adapts his approach to suit the instructions of the client. This includes the way in which advice is delivered.’


Key clients

Auckland Transport

Naylor Love

Department of Corrections

Airways Corporation of New Zealand Limited

Michael Hill International

Serco New Zealand Limited

WSP Opus

The Order of St John

Ministry of Transport

Tourism New Zealand

Work highlights

  • Advised the New Zealand Labour Party on the process it followed in an internal investigation into a complaint of sexual harassment.
  • Representing Airways Corporation in the Employment Court in its defence of an interim reinstatement application brought in the Employment Relations Authority by an Air Traffic Controller against Airways regarding the termination of his employment for failing a drug test.
  • Representing WorkSafe in a major employment claim by a former employee who was made redundant, alleging bullying and other misconduct on the part of the client.

DLA Piper New Zealand

DLA Piper New Zealand is led by Laura Scampion, who is ‘reassuring, articulate and effective’ in her advice on major outsourcing projects, significant restructures, multiple executive terminations and health and safety audits/advice. UK and New Zealand qualified, she also represents employers in significant disputes before the Employment Relations Authority, Employment Court and High Court. Senior associate Julia MacGibbon also plays a central role in the team.

Practice head(s):

Laura Scampion

Other key lawyers:

Julia MacGibbon


‘Laura Scampion – When you are facing challenging employment matters, it can be difficult to think clearly and make good decisions – That, in addition to not understanding a legal process can complicate matters even more. Laura explained the law, outlined in clear language the steps in the restructure process that we needed to follow. She was reassuring, articulate and effective. Laura made the process so much easier and gave me peace of mind in a stressful situation.’

‘Global presence in the NZ market makes DLA unique. Pragmatic and commercial employment team.’

‘Laura Scampion. We use a number of different employment law firms but value Laura for the tenacity and energy that she brings to her cases, as well as her pragmatic and commercial approach.’

‘Laura Scampion – expert in her field and very commercial.’

Key clients

Happy Valley Nutrition Limited

Weta Digital Limited

Discovery Communications LLC

Tech Mahindra (Singapore) PTE Limited

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited

GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare New Zealand ULC


Work highlights

  • Advised Weta Digital Ltd on a formal and full-scale review in relation to its workplace culture against the background of widespread and public bullying and harassment allegations.
  • Advised Discovery on all employment aspects relating to its acquisition of Media Works which covered a workforce of approximately 400-500 workers.
  • Represented GlaxoSmithKline in defence of a claim by a former employee in the Employment Relations Authority for unjustified dismissal, and unjustified disadvantage.

Duncan Cotterill

Duncan Cotterill specialises in all aspects of employment and related disputes, health and safety and immigration, bolstered by the arrival of Nicola Tiffen from Anthony Harper in May 2021. In Auckland, UK and New Zealand qualified Jessie Lapthorne represented Corelogic in defending a claim for unjustified dismissal in the Employment Relations Authority, and also successfully defended the challenge of that decision in the Employment Court, and the application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal. In another significant mandate, Kirsty McDonald regularly acts for clients under investigation by WorkSafe, supporting them both through the investigation process and any resulting prosecution. Mark Lawlor has developed an expertise in transport, IT, manufacturing, FMCG, retail and fitness/recreation sectors. In Christchurch, Sarah Townsend and Scott Wilson are the main figures, while in Wellington, Olivia Lund is the head of practice.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Townsend; Scott Wilson; Olivia Lund; Jessie Lapthorne; Kirsty McDonald; Mark Lawlor

Other key lawyers:

Nicola Tiffen; Alastair Espie


Excellent knowledge of New Zealand employment law.’

Duncan Cotterill have a depth of capability. They engage all levels of their team in case management which provides strong continuity in support and advice. As a New Zealand business this extends to the support provided across locations. Although I have a main partner, I have relationships with a number of key people which enables efficient and effective support.’

They are pragmatic and take time to gain a deeper understanding of the client’s organization. They are professional and show integrity and are able to quickly grasp the problem and offer advice succinctly and effectively. Sarah Townsend is outstanding and leads her team to provide the same level of support. Scott Wilson and Mark Lawlor provide strong support also.’

The team delivers a high quality of commercially focused legal advice. It’s reassuring to know if the partner is unavailable, anyone on the team is able to step in, quickly understand the issue and seamlessly provide high-quality advice across a broad range of issues.’

Duncan Cotterill provide great legal advice through a commercial lense in an effective manner. They are highly responsive and provide practical advice on how we can continue to improve.’

I enjoy working with the Duncan Cotterill’s team. They are very collaborative as a team and their advice is sound. I also think their response times and turnaround time for documentation sets them apart from other law firms that I have used in the past.’

Senior associate Alastair Espie gives me comfort when dealing with employment relation issues and he always provides very sound advice. Despite how busy he is Alastair always answers my calls and I appreciate his prompt response time. His sound advice brings me comfort in what can be challenging situations.’

Duncan Cotterill have a great culture and suitably qualified lawyers. Their technology and billing are of cutting edge which makes a lot earlier to do business with them.’

Key clients

Farmlands Co-Operative Limited

Synlait Milk Limited

Lincoln University

Ravensdown Limited

Enterprise Recruitment Limited

Smiths City

Virgin Australia Airlines

Cathay Pacific

Work highlights

  • Represented Smoke Control New Zealand Ltd in a health and safety matter, the first prosecution of a director under the HSWA brought by WorkSafe, the governing body.
  • Representing a Regional Council’s insurer in the defence of charges brought by Worksafe alleging a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 following the death of a rubbish collector on a Council sub-contracted vehicle.

Hesketh Henry

Hesketh Henry’s practice is headed by Jim Roberts, who is a recognised figure in the employment space. Experienced in all areas of employment law, Roberts regularly advises Trans-Tasman clients from a wide range of sectors on developing and implementing their employment strategies, which include collective bargaining, personal grievance processes, disputes, human rights and health and safety. Alison Maelzer is another key figure, advising on contentious and non-contentious employment aspects.

Practice head(s):

Jim Roberts; Alison Maelzer

Other key lawyers:

Jodi Sharman; Sam Houliston


‘Jim Roberts has over the years provided us with great advice and is easy to deal with and in a manner that we can understand.’

Key clients

Suncorp NZ Employees Limited

Metropolitan Glass & Glazing Limited

Corrections Association of New Zealand

Restaurant Association of New Zealand

Baker Tilly Staples Rodway Limited

Northpower Limited

Chubb Insurance NZ Limited

Behemoth Brewing Company Limited

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented MetroGlass & Glazing Ltd in the Employment Relations Authority in a matter involving the enforcement of a restraint of trade clause in its employment agreement with a former employee.
  • Advising Suncorp on individual issues, division or team issues, and union issues.
  • Advising CANZ on a range of complex employment relations and compliance matters, as well as assisting with CANZ’s members.

Kiely Thompson Caisley

As one of New Zealand’s only employment litigation boutiques, Kiely Thompson Caisley has extensive experience representing clients in the Employment Relations Authority and courts. Peter Kiely is one of the most recognisable figures in the market with over thirty years’ experience, while Andrew Caisley is praised as an ‘expert in industrial and employment relations law’. David France is an seasoned litigator with an extensive courtroom track record of acting for employers in the public sector, education, retail and manufacturing. Simon Lapthorne and Scott Worthy, who was appointed partner in July 2021 are recommended for restraint of trade disputes, performance management, restructuring and redundancies.

Other key lawyers:

Scott Worthy


‘Andrew Caisley is an expert in industrial and employment relations law. Andrew is very strategic and he partners closely with his clients to understand their business, their people, and their commercial priorities. Andrew a delivers commercially focused, practical, and solutions-orientated advice.’

‘David France has an incredible knowledge of employment law in New Zealand, there is no ego with him and he applies advice in the context of the relevant business need: he is clear, pragmatic, and always meets deadlines. ‘

‘David France – by far the best person I have ever dealt with. Very thorough, knowledgeable, personable and patient and partners with businesses to navigate the best solution for the business and advising on any risk factors. Always makes himself for the urgent aspects.’

‘We have always found Simon Lapthorne to provide great advice and insight into employment law. ‘

‘Scott Worthy is a brilliant lawyer who provides clear and commercially astute advice – he is without exception: professional; prompt; and, extremely knowledgeable. Scott is an exceptional Court room advocate who leads complex litigation with confidence. ‘

Key clients

Air New Zealand Limited

NZ Bus Limited

BMW Group

Brand Developers Ltd

Mercury NZ Ltd

Bunnings Ltd

Work highlights

  • Appeared for Business New Zealand as intervenor for a significant case advocating for business group interests in relation to the measures taken by the New Zealand Government and employers due to the impact COVID-19 and Government wage subsidies.
  • Represented Air New Zealand in a contractual interpretation dispute regarding different collective agreements and redundancy.
  • Represented an employee whose employment had been terminated in a contestable redundancy process, establishing that the client had been unjustifiably dismissed and was successful in seeking an order of reinstatement.

Lane Neave

Lane Neave advises employers from various sectors on the full spectrum of litigious and non-litigious matters employment law, health & safety, ACC and HR issues. Andrew Shaw in Christchurch and Auckland-based Fiona McMillan co-head the department, specialising in employment disputes and employment relations and corporate support, respectively. Shaw has a good relationship with the New Zealand Law Society and receives referrals for vulnerable claimants, while McMillan regularly undertakes independent external investigations on behalf of employers.  Having practiced in the UK, special counsel Gwen Drewitt in Christchurch is well placed to advise international clients on their employment law obligations. In the same office, special counsel Maria Green supports McMillan on employment relations matters.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Shaw


‘Combination of professional and friendly approach. Genuine interest in our industry. Sense of working with a team that collaborate well.’

‘Straight talking legal advice, Lane Neave know our industry very well and all the complications that come with a variable workforce like hospitality. The thing I enjoy most is the team and their service approach. Always willing to support our needs.’

‘The team is highly responsive using wider experience to provide us confidence we are dealing with expert practitioners in their field.’

‘Fiona McMillan: Experienced partner with great commercial acumen driven by getting the best result for her clients.’

Key clients

Accor Hotels

Ngai Tahu Fisheries

Canterbury District Health Board

Williams Corporation Limited

Lyttelton Port Company

Super Liquor Holdings Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Accor Hotels on significant restructures of hotels across New Zealand, during the COVID-19 lockdown period and beyond.
  • Representing Williams Corporation Limited in claims of aiding and abetting the breach of employment agreements being pursued by Du Val Property Management, successfully in defending the claim at the interim stage.
  • Represented Amuri Medical Centre, the employer, in highly contentious proceedings before the Employment Relations Authority, regarding reinstating an employee’s role as a general practitioner following recent redundancy.

Russell McVeagh

Kylie Dunn leads the Auckland-based employment practice at Russell McVeagh where she advises employers on a wide range of industrial issues, restraints of trade, redundancies, personal grievances and professional misconduct. She also advises on health and safety liability, working alongside Malcolm Crotty, who is a go-to defence counsel for employers in health and safety prosecutions. Senior associate Emma Peterson is recommended for personal grievance claims and other litigation, as well as restructuring work and the drafting of employment agreements. Special counsel Mark Campbell in Wellington is also noted for his broad employment practice.

Practice head(s):

Kylie Dunn


‘Kylie Dunn – understands our business and industry extremely well. She is always available to provide advice for our 365 day 24/7 operation and this means we talk in some unusual situations and circumstances at times and she always supports with great care and consideration.’

‘All members of this team are strategic, commercially astute and pragmatic. Their understanding of what makes a business tick sets them apart, they are able to provide excellent and practically applicable advice.’

‘I have worked with Kylie Dunn and Emma Petersen for several years, in my capacity as HRD in two organisations. They are both exceptional legal professionals – knowledgeable and commercially astute, they understand people and organisational dynamics, and efficient in terms of assigning appropriate resource to various matters. They build relationships with their clients, and I couldn’t recommend their services highly enough.’

‘Kylie Dunn – She understands the people we deal with, and can manage the right legal solutions for the best result. She has a wonderful depth of legal knowledge that she conveys so simply. She has a high level of trust in the business and will always go the extra mile with a smile. She is also strong in listening, making hard decisions and supporting our culture.’

Key clients

Auckland International Airport Limited

Norske Skog Tasman Limited

Sanford Limited

SKYCITY Entertainment Group

Skyline Management Ltd

StraitNZ Ltd

Tasman Cargo Airlines Pty Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising Visionstream New Zealand on the 300+ subcontractors engaged by it to provide ultra-fast broadband services to Chorus New Zealand.
  • Advising SkyCity Entertainment Group on Covid-19 related employment law issues, which includes application for the government wage subsidy, two large scale redundancy processes (affecting a third of the workforce) and subsequent personal grievances.
  • Representing Post Primary Teachers’ Association in relation to a pay equity claim lodged by part time teachers regarding non- contact time.

SBM Legal

Auckland-based employment boutique SBM Legal supports large corporations, specialist unions, senior executives and individuals, bringing ‘a highly pragmatic and skilful approach’ to all facets of employment law, with an emphasis in health, education and sports. The practice has seen a growth of instruction in workplace investigations, which are led by Bridget Smith  and Penny Swarbrick. Recently, Swarbrick and Anthony Russell  advised various high-profile employers, among them District Health Boards, McDonalds Restaurants and NZ Cricket, on employment issues in connection with Covid-19, including impact of the wage subsidy on employment obligations, application of redundancy principles and – terms and conditions of employment of staff in Managed Isolation Facilities. Matthew McGoldrick is recommended for disputes. Kathryn Beck  has been appointed as a Judge at the Employment Court of Auckland.

Practice head(s):

Bridget Smith


‘They have fantastic knowledge and provide exceptional service to our company.’

Key clients

KiwiRail Limited

District Health Boards

Car Haulaways Ltd

Coca Cola Amatil (NZ) Ltd

Asmuss Water Systems Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised KiwiRail on interpretation of a retirement clause in a Collective Agreement – what the applicable principles of contractual interpretation were and how should they be applied to this clause.
  • Acting for employer in an Employment Court appeal involving non-publication orders arising out of sexual harassment claims.
  • Representing the former Managing Director of Fuji Xerox New Zealand who is being sued for approximately NZ$83 million for a negligence claim in relation to alleged inappropriate accounting practices adopted by the company, including the actions of its auditor.

Anderson Lloyd

Though based in Dunedin, Anderson Lloyd is expanding its national reach and capability in South Island with the February 2021 recruitment of employment partner Ashley-Jayne Lodge and her associate, Jack Brown, based in Christchurch, who joined from a local labour boutique, Cavell Leitch Pringle & Boyle. Lodge complements the employment practice with expertise in health and safety law, and often acts for employer insurers on employment and privacy matters and conducts workplace investigations. In Dunedin, John Farrow’s practice covers the full range of employment matters, including those which involve criminal and civil aspects. Senior associate Fi McMillan often advises education sector clients. The firm has strong links with local government, health and educational sector clients.

Practice head(s):

John Farrow


‘They are very efficient and do not unnecessarily drag out work. Fast turnaround. John Farrow is our key contact and is very important to our business as the go-to contact.’

‘John Farrow is an exceptionally client-focused partner, he is pragmatic, thoughtful, efficient and well informed on recent case law. He demonstrates strong and thoughtful leadership to his equally effective team, all of whom he has made available on matters that require their specific expertise.’

‘This team is able to cover all aspects of employment. They work well as a team with the ability to support each other and use the strengths of the team. In all dealing I have had with Anderson Lloyd they have demonstrated how they are a collaborative supportive team, this also allows for the best considerations of the outcomes for the client.’

‘Fi McMillian – cares for the client and ensures that they can understand the emotional response and how to manage this.’

‘John Farrow – understands everything and supports with the best staff to help in whatever situation is needed.’

Key clients

Grounds and Services Limited

CORE Education Limited

University of Otago

Otago Polytechnic (and insurer Vero Liability)

ANZCO Foods Limited

Tetra Pak (New Zealand) Limited

Otago Polytechnic

Oceana Gold (New Zealand) Ltd

Southern District Health Board

Work highlights

  • Advised CORE Education Ltd on the implementation of a full organisation restructure involving 100+ employees across multiple regional offices.
  • Advised the University of Otago on a complex claim under the Privacy Act in the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
  • Represented Otago Polytechnic in successfully arguing for New Zealand’s first ever court-ordered enforceable undertaking ordered under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 as an alternative to a $240,000 fine.

EY Law Limited

Auckland based EY Law Limited utilises its global networks to provide integrated employment and health and safety advice for corporates, ranging from global restructures and business acquisitions, wage accuracy compliance, employee incentives and health and safety. Though primarily a tax partner, practice head Tori Sullivan supports clients in employment aspects of corporate transactions and dispute resolution. Senior associate Kieron Creagh is also noted for contentious employment relations and health and safety matters.

Practice head(s):

Tori Sullivan

Other key lawyers:

Kieron Creagh


‘Personable team and had the ability to simplify legal terminology. Friendly demeaner and technically competent.’

Jennifer Mills & Associates

Jennifer Mills & Associates is a boutique employment and health and safety law practice based in Auckland. Founding partner Jennifer Mills has been described by clients as ‘one of the best in her field’, and has a wealth of experience in employment litigation, industrial relations, complex restructures, Holidays Act issues and executive exits. Senior associate Ethelred Chey is qualified in Human Resource Management and often works with managers and HR on their day-to-day activities.

Practice head(s):

Jennifer Mills

Other key lawyers:

Ethelred Chey


‘Jennifer is the best employment lawyer I have ever worked with. She would have to be one of if not the best in her field in NZ.’

‘This practice is led by a highly skilled and respected solicitor. The practice is focused on employment law which is constantly changing and requires legal representation which is current with the law.’

‘Highly responsive to clients. Extremely well informed about current case law and practice. Provide high quality advice.’

‘Simply what makes the practice unique is Jennifer. Her pragmatic approach, availability, sharp mind and ability to give quick and sound advice on the spot, based on a thorough understanding of your unique business requirements.’

Key clients

Ports of Auckland

NZ Panels Group

United Industries

Waiaua Bay Farm (Robertson Lodges)

Foley Wines

CSR Building Products

DHL Global Forwarding

James Pascoe (Pascoes and Stewart Dawsons)

JB Were

1Seyfarth Shaw

Work highlights

  • Advising Ports of Auckland on litigation, strategic and tactical legal advice during its collective bargaining with the Maritime Union of New Zealand, as well as advice on health and safety matters.
  • Advising Seyfarth Shaw’s International Employment Law clients who operate in New Zealand.
  • Representing North Tugz Limited in a test case initiated by the Rail and Maritime Transport Union, while the parties were engaged in bargaining for a collective agreement.

Wynn Williams

Wynn Williams has an established national presence with a practice in Auckland, led by Anthony Drake and in Christchurch, headed by the ‘exceptionally gifted’ Amanda Douglas. Drake has been active advising employers on Covid-19 restructuring (including negotiating with unions) and employers on business transfer issues, while Douglas is sought out for resolving disputes primarily with negotiation and mediation. The firm is recommended for advising on employment aspects of large restructures and M&A transactions and additionally acts for both employers and employees on personal grievances, bullying, disciplinary investigations and serious misconduct.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Douglas; Anthony Drake


‘What makes this practice unique is that they care and get to know your business so that their advice is specific to your business and not generic. They are proactive in keeping your business up to date with any relevant changes in legislation. They also have a great team of experts that specialise in their own area of legislation.’

‘Amanda Douglas is exceptionally gifted in matching her approach to the weaknesses of the other party.’

‘Trust, objectivity, significant repertoire and experience, good reputation, connections and networks with an ear on the pulse, ethical and high integrity.’

‘Main contact is with Amanda Douglas. Great grasp of business and sector. Accessible and very responsive to deadlines. Great communication.’

Key clients

Heart Kids New Zealand Incorporated

NEP Broadcast Services New Zealand Limited

Turuki Healthcare Charitable Trust

HiFx Limited

AIG Insurance New Zealand Limited | Insured: a community law organisation

Waikanae Beach Motel Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised NEP on dealing with employee transfer and other employee matters in NEP’s purchase of Outside Broadcasting Services from Sky Television.
  • Advised AIG |Insured on three personal grievances arising out of a complex investigation process and spearheaded a disciplinary process against an employee.
  • Advising HiFX on dismissing three employees following an investigation into irregularities with those employees’ activities.