Firms To Watch: Labour and employment

PwC Legal New Zealand‘s employment practice was formed in 2020 through the arrival of Chris Baldock from MinterEllisonRuddWatts and has already amassed names such as AMP, Honda, and GlaxoSmithKline, supporting them on the full array of relevant matters.

Labour and employment in New Zealand

Bell Gully

Bell Gully operates across a varied spectrum of market leading labour and employment matters, from transactional, contentious, and general advisory work through to health and safety and public sector project mandates. Rachael Brown is based in Wellington, where she serves as a key port of call to both public and private sector clients; she co-leads the team alongside the Aucklank trio of Tim Clarke, who acts in a broad variety of litigious matters, Liz Coats, who advises on industrial relations matters, such as collective bargaining disputes, and Rosemary Wooders, an expert in advising on legislator changes.

Practice head(s):

Tim Clarke; Rachael Brown; Liz Coats; Rosemary Wooders

Other key lawyers:

Andrea Pazin


‘The team are settled and know us as a business to provide clear legal advice with good commercial understanding of our business requirements.’

‘Good skills, experience and understanding of our business.’

‘Impressive attitude and effort. Unwavering diligence and commitment.’

Key clients

Bapcor (NZ|)


C|arter Holt Harvey

Department of Correction|s

Electricity| Authority

Goodman Fielder

Lyttelton Port Company

Ministry of Education


Port Marlborough


Sime Darby Motor Company

Te |Pū|kenga – New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology

One NZ


Work highlights

  • Represented Carter Holt Harvey in a dispute relating to its direction to employees to take annual leave during New Zealand’s first COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown period.
  • Advised Craigs Investment Partners on the sale of the QuayStreet business to Smartshares Limited.
  • Advised Te Pūkenga on a range of employment and health and safety matters.

Buddle Findlay

Buddle Findlay supports public, private, and government clients alike across a broad variety of highly complex employment and industrial relations matters. The Wellington office is home to Peter Chemis, an expert in the employment-related aspects of M&A and restructurings, as well as Hamish Kynaston, whose varied workload includes dismissals, collective bargaining, and harassment mandates; the duo co-leads the group alongside Auckland-based Sherridan Cook and Christchurch lawyer, Susan RoweShaun Brookes was promoted to special counsel in January 2023.

Practice head(s):

Peter Chemis; Sherridan Cook; Hamish Kynaston; Susan Rowe

Other key lawyers:

Shaun Brookes


‘Great all around depth from this national firm in the employment and industrial relations area.’

‘Shaun Brookes is a great operator. Very approachable, bright and focused on a solution.’

‘Peter Chemis has been at the top of his game for decades. ’

Key clients

New Zealand Police

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

New Zealand Post

Wellington City Council

Ministry of Social Development

Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Children

Hauora Waikato

Land Information New Zealand

Greater Wellington Regional Council

Te Pūkenga – New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology

Fairway Resolution

Ministry of Health

Callaghan Innovation

Massey University

Department of Corrections

Wellington International Airport

Contact Energy

New Zealand Customs Service

The Treasury

Toyota New Zealand

Reserve Bank of New Zealand

Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand

Christchurch City Council

Selwyn District Council

University of Canterbury

Hurunui District Council

Waimakariri District Council

Workbridge Incorporated


Kapiti Coast District Council

Ministry for Primary Industries

Te Aka Whai Ora – Māori Health Authority

ANZ Bank

Mahitahi Hauora

Pacific Radiology

Crown Law

Jonas Software

Ministry of Housing and Urban Development

Trade Me

Te Tumu Paeroa (the Māori Trustee)

Department of Conservation

Ministry of Justice

Weta Workshop Limited

TAB New Zealand

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Sky Television

Lumino Dental


One New Zealand Group Limited



Emirates Airlines

Lockheed-Martin Global

McDonalds Corporation

Methanex New Zealand

The Walt Disney Company (Australia)


Swissport New Zealand

New Zealand Transport Agency


Viridian Glass

Illinois Tool Works


Boffa Miskell

Panasonic Avionics



Enviro NZ Services Limited

Argenta Limited

Indevin Group Limited

Miraka Limited

Winston Nutritional Limited

Zoetis New Zealand Limited

Imerys New Zealand

McLarens Group

Oji Fibre Solutions

SC Johnson

Sunfed Foods


Auckland UniServices

New Zealand Blood Service

Navico Auckland

Weta Workshop Limited


Crombie Lockwood

Airways Corporation


Tihei Limited

2 Degrees Mobile Limited

SPCA New Zealand

Finsure Finance & Insurance

Jasper Property Limited

STERIS New Zealand Limited;

Strong Parts Group

Melodics Limited

Industry Skills

Work highlights

  • Represented Customs in the Employment Relations Authority and on appeal in the Employment Court in relation to proceedings brought by an unvaccinated border employee.
  • Advised a client on various legal issues associated with the transfer of staff to new entities created to subsume New Zealand’s 16 polytechnics (Te Pūkenga) and New Zealand’s 20 District Health Boards and other health sector agencies (Te Whatu Ora).

Dundas Street

Dundas Street is at the forefront of cutting-edge labour and employment matters, including mandates concerning the Fair Pay Agreements Act 2022, the developing pay equity field, and large-scale restructuring processes for the government. The practice is headed from Wellington by Susan Hornsby-Geluk, ‘one of the top employment lawyers in the country‘ who is often coveted by the media on sector developments; she is based alongside Blair Scotland, a public sector expert, and Ros Webby, whose track record includes flagship collective bargaining matters. The practice is also home to Chloe Luscombe and Megan Vant, two junior names who are forging a prominent reputation in all areas of employment law.

Practice head(s):

Susan Hornsby-Geluk

Other key lawyers:

Susan Hornsby-Geluk; Blair Scotland; Ros Webby; Chloe Luscombe; Megan Vant


‘Great depth with experts in all areas of employment and industrial relations. Incredibly responsive and pragmatic with their advice and deliver excellent value for money.’

‘Chloe Luscombe has great expertise in black letter law interpretation issues and turnaround times are phenomenal.’

‘Ros Webby imposes structure on the most factually dense claims and very commercial in her advice.’

Key clients

Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Inc

The Salvation Army

Lake Taupo Hospice Trust

Te Pūkenga – NZ Institute of Skills & Technology

Wairarapa Building Society

Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission

Ministry of Justice

Information New Zealand

Ministry of Culture and Heritage

Department of Corrections

Department of Conservation

Victoria University

Massey University

Inland Revenue Department

Department of Internal Affairs

Ministry of Education

Fire & Emergency NZ

NZ Defence Force

Accident Compensation Corporation

Fletcher Group

Sky Television

InvoCare New Zealand Ltd

Hilton Haulage

Alliance Group

Wellington City Council

Christchurch City Council

St John Ambulance

Access Community Healthcare

Hokotehi Moriori Trust

SAFE – Save Animals from Exploitation

Work highlights

  • Acting for Te Whatu Ora in a multi-million dollar representative action brought on behalf of 35,000 nurses employed in the public health sector regarding historical claims for back pay in the pay equity space and the claims are being dealt with concurrently in both the Employment Court and Employment Relations Authority.
  • Acted for multiple government departments, including the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, in relation to a challenge to the legitimacy of the government’s vaccine mandate orders in an employment context.
  • Advised Te Whatu Ora on the biggest reform of the health sector to have occurred in New Zealand, which saw the 20 separate DHBs merged into one single mega-agency raising complex legal and strategic employment law issues, including how to integrate 20 separate legal employers and 80,000 employees covered by over 80 different employment agreements.

LangtonHudsonButcher, Lawyers

A specialist employment boutique, LangtonHudsonButcher, Lawyers covers all areas of employment law and industrial relations, including contentious, corporate transactional, and non-contentious matters alike. The practice is spearheaded by Stephen Langton, a lawyer with an illustrious track record in all-manner of litigious matters, including those before the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court; he is based in Auckland where Andrew Schirnack has been increasingly specialising in harassment, bullying and incompatibility matters. Ronelle Tomkinson rounds off the three-partner practice and is often involved in the employment advisory aspects of big-ticket corporate transactions.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Langton

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Schirnack; Ronelle Tomkinson


‘The members of the team that we have interacted with have all shown a real desire to provide practical assistance, and are very responsive, with a quick turnaround of advice or assistance. They are friendly, approachable, and professional.’

‘We predominantly use Andrew Schirnack and we continue to go back to him as he really knows our business, our culture and values, and how we operate. Andrew provides pragmatic, practical advice on ER matters, is very responsive and can relate well to our line managers who are impressed with his down-to-earth advice and approach. ’

‘Not only do they have the deep technical expertise, and lots of specific examples and experiences to draw on, they are flexible in approach, down-to-earth and pragmatic and very clear at explaining options, pros and cons and working through to find the best solution for the business. They really feel like an extension of the team, a true collaborative partner.’

Key clients

Tourism Holdings Limited

Vector Limited

Restaurant Brands

Bayleys Realty Group

GEA New Zealand Limited

Super Retail Group

Tradition Kiwi Brokers Limited

Les Mills New Zealand Limited

Tower Limited

The Birthing Centre Limited

DiDi Mobility (New Zealand) Limited

Unity Technologies New Zealand Limited

Fullers Group Limited


Universal Music New Zealand Limited

China Navigation Company

JB Hi-Fi Group

Canon New Zealand Limited

Godfrey Hirst

Vitaco Health NZ Limited

Beca Limited

Pathology Associates Limited

Green Acres Franchise Group Limited

Accent Group

New Zealand Writers Guild

Legend Story Studios

Green Cross Health

Work highlights

  • Advising The Birthing Centre on a test case in the Employment Court on the scope of the duty to disclose information in a commercial transaction.
  • Advised the Film Industry Working Group that worked with Government on the development of the new Screen Industry Workers Act 2022.
  • Advised Vontier Corporation and Gilbarco Veeder-Root on the NZ employment law aspects of their NZD128m purchase of Invenco Group, which provides technology for self-service payment solutions.

Simpson Grierson

Routinely engaged in cutting-edge matters across the banking, education, health, and sports industries, among others, Simpson Grierson is led by Auckland-based Rebecca Rendle; she is acclaimed for her work in all facets of employment law, from personal grievance claims, holiday pay, and disciplinary processes, through to collective bargaining and restructurings. Phillipa Muir is a further standout name and holds a number of first-of-their-kind cases under her belt, including the first employment law case before the Supreme Court. John Rooney, qualified in both UK and New Zealand law, is a leader in respect of employment-related mediation, while Bronwyn Heenan is a key port of call for several notable public sector clients.

Practice head(s):

Rebecca Rendle

Other key lawyers:

Phillipa Muir; John Rooney; Bronwyn Heenan


‘Very responsive and knowledgeable. We have reached a resolution on some long-standing issues, thanks to SG’s involvement.’

‘As they have been our legal representation for a number of years, their knowledge of our organisation, industry and historical issues is superb, and we rely on them for this.’

‘If someone is away, we are always redirected to another subject-matter expert very quickly. Responsiveness and service is clearly a top priority for them.’

Key clients

Chorus New Zealand Limited

Department of Corrections

Ministry of Education

Hall’s Group Limited

Icepak New Zealand Limited

Local Government

Ministry of Disabled People – Whaikaha

New Zealand Defence Force

PGG Wrightson Limited

Te Whatu Ora – Te Toka Tumai

Westpac New Zealand Limited

University of Auckland

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Ministry of education on bargaining three Collective Agreements for Primary Principals.
  • Represented Fonterra Brands (New Zealand) Limited in defending an application brought by an employee to determine the lawfulness of FBNZ directing employees to use biometrics for time and attendance.
  • Representing the Department of Corrections in relation to two ongoing disputes and one completed matter.

Anthony Harper

Anthony Harper splits its offering between employment and health and safety affairs, with the former led by Christchurch-based Anne Wilson and the latter spearheaded by Grant Nicholson in Auckland. The practice is noted for its work on restructuring, collective bargaining, bullying, harassment, exit terms, and disputes, in addition to the full array of workplace incidents, and demonstrates a particular tenacity for matters within the agriculture, construction, government, logistics, film, manufacturing, and tourism industries.

Practice head(s):

Anne Wilson; Grant Nicholson


‘Excellent knowledge in aspects of health and safety law, and the behaviours of regulators during their enquiry.’

‘Easy to work with. Explains things in simple terms suitable for non-lawyers to understand.’

‘Great law firm, highly recommend for health and safety law.’

Key clients

Arvida Group

City Rail Link

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners New Zealand

Commercial Communications Council

Eke Panuku Development Auckland

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare

Leighs Construction

Mansons TCLM

McConnell Dowell Constructors

Mercedes-Benz Group AG

Naylor Love Construction

New Zealand Advertising Producers Group

Ngāti Awa Group Holdings

Nissan NZ/Nissan Financial Services NZ

Oji Fibre Solutions (NZ)


Port of Tauranga

Scales Corporation

Vero Liability Insurance

Waste Management NZ

Work highlights

  • Representing White Island Tours in its defence of charges laid by WorkSafe in relation to the Whakaari/White Island eruption, New Zealand’s worst workplace health and safety disaster in a decade.
  • Representing and advising large logistics companies in collective bargaining strategy.
  • Advised a leading public sector infrastructure provider on legal compliance, risk management and corporate governance of health and safety during the development and commissioning billions of dollars of transportation infrastructure.

Chapman Tripp

At Chapman Tripp, the client roster includes corporates, multinationals and public sector organisations, among others, who rely on the team’s far-reaching expertise. Fields of specific expertise include all-manner of employment investigations, senior management exits, and restructurings, in addition the employment components of significant M&A deals. The practice is led from Auckland by Marie Wisker, an acclaimed health and safety specialist, and features Garth Gallaway, a Christchurch-based litigator.

Practice head(s):

Marie Wisker

Other key lawyers:

Garth Gallaway


‘The team I work with at Chapman Tripp NZ are amazing! They are exceedingly knowledgeable, supportive, responsive, practical, proactive and provide very compressive advice – advice that can be trusted. If they don’t know the answer, they actively seek advice from the broader team to support our enquires. We have worked with the team at CT in NZ for 20+ years and have no intention of changing any time soon.’

‘We have a long-standing working relationship with CT NZ, particularly Marie Wisker. I cannot speak highly enough of the team and the support and advice they provide.’

Key clients

T&G Global Limited

BNZ Limited

Oceania Group

Partners Life Limited

Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment

PBT Transport Limited

The Alpine Group Limited

Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Limited

Roche Products (New Zealand) Limited

Roche Diagnostics NZ Limited

Provincial Education Group Limited

Lyttelton Port Company Limited

Dentons New Zealand

Dentons New Zealand is particularly proficient in representing private sector clients, though is likewise well-regarded by aviation, technology, retail, and creative industry clients. Dual qualified in both the UK and New Zealand, James Warren sits at helm the department and is active on whistleblowing, employee relations, compliance, and fraud matters, in addition to the employment aspects of corporate transactions and insolvency; he is based in Auckland where Charlotte Parkhill leverages in-depth knowledge of the Holidays and Human Rights Acts. In Wellington, Renee Butler is a 2022 partner who is already leading a high-end caseload.

Practice head(s):

James Warren

Other key lawyers:

Greg Cain; Charlotte Parkhill; Renee Butler


‘The team provides pragmatic, timely advice, and is not afraid to test their thinking rather than adhere blindly to a predetermined strategy for resolving a matter.’

‘We rely on Greg Cain’s understanding of our business and risk appetite, and ability to set out the options and advice in a way that laypeople can readily understand, particularly as we navigate an area of the law in a dispute resolution context we’ve not had a lot of exposure to previously.’

‘James Warren is truly an exceptional partner to work with. Not only is he responsive, but he adapts to meet our requirements. He also demonstrates a willingness to know more about our industry and business environment, which is invaluable.’

‘Greg Cain is very responsive, and I believe provides advice taking account of how we operate; that is, he understands our organisation in terms of the advice he provides.’

‘The team works well together. They are very available and personable with consistency of support and approach.’

‘Team members are quick to respond and breadth of expertise broad.’

‘Thorough and bespoke advice for many and varied requests for advice.’

‘They are very responsive, provide pragmatic advice, and good to work with.’

Key clients

Airways Corporation of New Zealand

Auckland Transport



CPB Contractors

Danone Nutricia

Department of Corrections


George Weston Foods

Greater Wellington Regional Council

Hastings District Council

Inland Revenue Department

James Hardie

JH Whittaker & Sons Ltd

Maritime New Zealand

Ministry for the Environment

Michael Hill International

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Ministry of Transport

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

PanPac Forest Products Ltd

The Parliamentary Service

Royal New Zealand Ballet


Serco New Zealand Limited

The Health Research Council of New Zealand

The New Zealand Automobile Association

The Order of St John

Tourism New Zealand

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

WorkSafe NZ

WSP New Zealand

Work highlights

  • Representing the Department of Corrections in a long-running and high-profile case, where an employee is claiming NZ$1m in damages in connection with mental and physical injuries she suffered during a one of New Zealand’s worst prison riots.
  • Acted for CBRE in relation to employment aspects arising from a major transaction involving the purchase of New Zealand’s largest valuation company, TelferYoung.
  • Representing WorkSafe NZ in a major employment claim by a former employee who was made redundant.

DLA Piper New Zealand

At DLA Piper New Zealand, the team has recently acted on health and safety and employment-related M&A work, in addition to a wealth of litigious matters before the Employment Court, High Court, and Employment Relations Authority. The team is headed from Auckland by Laura Scampion, who leverages over 20 years of experience and is dual qualified in both local and UK law. A key distinguisher of the practice is its close collaboration with the firm’s wider APAC and international offices. Carl Blake is a favourite among clients, and leverages his prior experience at the Human Rights Commission when working on contentious matters.

Practice head(s):

Laura Scampion

Other key lawyers:

Carl Blake


‘The employment team at DLA Piper are superb technically and can handle the most complex of issues. In saying that they are also willing to assist on minor matters and do it in such a way that is right-sized for the issue at hand. We use DLA Piper for all our employment matters.’

‘Carl Blake is an absolute standout, not only in the DLA team but across the NZ employment law landscape. His calm and pragmatic approach means matters get dealt with quickly and without the level of angst that often comes with the territory. He simply gets on with the job with a minimum amount of fuss and makes dealing with these matters far easier than it might otherwise be.’

‘Carl Blake is the employment lawyer partner that we engage with. He was introduced to us more than 10 years ago and since then he has been our go-to-person for almost all employments issues and matters in our group.’

‘Carl Blake is very professional, a good listener, commercially savvy and more importantly always available, amidst his busy schedule. This is crucial as most of the employment matters involving senior executive team members require urgent attention and without fail, Carl has never disappointed us for the last decade or so.’

Key clients

Discovery Communications LLC

Harrison Grierson

Infrastructure New Zealand


Panasonic Avionics Corporation Limited



Ethique Limited

OCS Limited

Grant Thornton

Wakatū Corporation

Work highlights

  • Advised BlackRock on the acquisition by GRP III NZ Bidco Limited of 100% of the shares in solarZero Limited by way of a scheme of arrangement.
  • Advising Kono on all employment aspects of the sale of its seafood division to Talley’s.
  • Advised Tiffany and Co on Employment Relations Authority litigation.

Duncan Cotterill

Duncan Cotterill works across the entire spectrum of employment, health and safety, and immigration affairs. The team covers everything from restructurings, wellbeing issues, and disputes, through to workplace conduct investigations and visa applications; it counts the education, construction, transport, insurance, and manufacturing sectors among its key fields of expertise. The team is home to Olivia Lund, a Wellington lawyer with a track record in workplace fatalities and incidents of serious harm.

Other key lawyers:

Olivia Lund; Jessie Lapthorne; Kirsty McDonald; Sarah Townsend; Scott Wilson; Nicola Tiffen; Alastair Espie

Key clients


Wilson Group

Heritage Hotels


Squirrel Mortgages


AIA International


First Security

Hesketh Henry

Hesketh Henry frequently acts for employers, employees, and unions across various industries, including manufacturing, aviation, marine, professional services, and utilities, in addition to the public sector. Based in Auckland, Jim Roberts has close to 30 years’ experience in the field, leveraging an in-depth knowledge of the Employment Contacts Act 1991, Employment Relations Act 2000, and the Labour Relations Act 1987. Roberts co-leads the team, which focuses on disputes, legislative compliance, and health and safety issues, alongside Alison Maelzer and Jodi Sharman.

Practice head(s):

Jim Roberts; Alison Maelzer; Jodi Sharman


‘Highly case-orientated team with pragmatic solutions during tough negotiations’

‘Team are super practical in advise, approachable and connected; if we speak with one person, we know the whole team are going to be across the issue.’

‘Alison Maelzer is the main partner we work with, and she is extremely responsive, efficient and very knowledgable. Nothing is too much trouble, and her advice gives me confidence.’

‘This practice engages in a true partnership with you. What makes them unique is there practical, down-to-earth advice, which is technically excellent but real. They have significant depth behind their answers which you can rely on.’

‘They are people you actually enjoy talking to. The key people have an excellent sense of humour and they make a point of being exceptionally available. They are there for you!’

‘Jim Roberts has significant knowledge he brings to any situation and is one of the best in the employment law field. I would trust his opinion on any matter and he gives you confidence.’

‘What makes Alison Maelzer stand out is her ability to ask you the right questions to get the best answers. Invaluable in terms of cutting to the chase. One of the best I have dealt with in considering all angles in a phone call without any heads up about what you are going to talk labour.’

‘The team is super knowledgeable, capable, and responds quickly.’

Key clients

Restaurant Association of New Zealand

Corrections Association of New Zealand Incorporated

Suncorp Group Services NZ Ltd

Metropolitan Glass & Glazing Ltd

Northpower Ltd

Baker Tilly Staples Rodway Ltd

Aviation & Marine Engineers Association

InterMed Medical Ltd

Hella New Zealand Ltd

German-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Incorporated

Amy Tea Consulting Limited

Behemoth Brewing Company Ltd

Sitel New Zealand Ltd

GUD NZ Holdings Ltd

Construkt Architects Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, which represents the majority of restaurants and cafes in New Zealand, on a union application for a Fair Pay Agreement, the first FPA in New Zealand for the hospitality sector following the enactment of The Fair Pay Agreements Act 2022.
  • Represented the Corrections Association of New Zealand Inc successfully from an application by the Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections to dismiss important proceedings in relation to a prison riot and staff safety.
  • Advised Suncorp Group Services NZ Ltd, which has over 900 employees in New Zealand, on a wide range of employment and associated matters, including assisting with a complex disciplinary process for a senior employee, and providing strategic advice for union bargaining purposes.

Jennifer Mills & Associates

Founded in Auckland in 2018, Jennifer Mills & Associates was established by the firm’s namesake, Jennifer Mills, an expert in contentious, health and safety, industrial relation, remuneration, and executive exit mandates. She is supported by senior associate Ethelred Chey, whose workload spans legislative compliance, collective bargaining, and disciplinary matters, among others.

Practice head(s):

Jennifer Mills

Other key lawyers:

Ethelred Chey


‘Jennifer Mills is exceptional, really takes a commercial approach and is focused on the best outcomes. Her legal mind is second to no one. Her written communication is the best I have seen.’

‘Jennifer Mills is one of the most experienced and capable lawyers in the employment law area in New Zealand. This is an area where specialisation does count as it is very technical but in addition good judgement is required and she has that.’

‘Jennifer Mills is what makes the practice unique. Her pragmatism along with depth of knowledge and experience is what sets the practice apart from others.’

Key clients

Amazon Web Services

Seyfarth Shaw

King & Spalding

DHL Global Forwarding

Foley Wines and Foley Hospitality Limited

CSR Building Products

James Pascoe Group

JB Were

Marlborough Lines

United Industries Limited

Platform Homes Limited

Johnson & Laird

Sisters of Mercy Ministries NZ

Mercy Healthcare Auckland Limited

A2 Milk


West Auckland Trust Services Limited

Sharp Corporation of New Zealand

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels New Zealand Limited

Summerset Group Holdings Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising King & Spalding’s multinational clients who operate in New Zealand (including Amazon and Cisco).
  • Advised Marlborough Lines on its collective bargaining process with their union members.
  • Advised DHL Global Forwarding on all employment matters arising in New Zealand.

Kiely Thompson Caisley

A specialist employment boutique in Auckland, Kiely Thompson Caisley has litigated at all levels, from cases before the Employment Relations Authority all the way through to the Supreme Court. Founding partners Peter Kiely and Andrew Caisley respectively serve as authorities on collective bargaining, meanwhile David France is a go-to for manufacturing, retail, and aviation sector clients, among others. Scott Worthy is also a standout contact for restructuring, redundancy, disciplinary processes, and health and safety matters.

Practice head(s):

Peter Kiely; Andrew Caisley; David France; Simon Lapthorne; Laura Chapman; Scott Worthy


‘Good level of experience and ability to advise and support through the most complex and challenging of problems.’

‘Good level of insight that brings so much more than just a legal opinion.’

‘Advice provided achieves cut through to get to a resolution. Quality of advice provided through Fair Pay Agreements in particular is unrivalled.’

Key clients

ABB Limited

Air New Zealand Limited

Altus NZ Ltd

Anzor Fasteners Limited

Babbage Corporate Finance Limited

Barkers Clothing Ltd

Blackburn Transport Limited

BMW Group

Brand Developers Ltd

Bunnings Ltd

Civil Aviation Authority

Catholic Diocese of Auckland

CMA CGM Group Agencies (NZ) Ltd

Consult Recruitment Ltd

COSCO Shipping Lines (New Zealand) Limited

Craigs Investment Partners

Crown Infrastructure Partners Ltd

Evolution Healthcare Limited

Foodstuffs North Island NZ Limited

Fox Glacier Guides

Franklin Smith Limited

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Limited

Hapag Lloyd (New Zealand) Ltd

Jarden Partners Limited

JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A.

MECCA Brands NZ Pty Ltd

Mercury NZ Ltd

Milk NZ Management Ltd

Neurological Foundation

NZ Bus Limited

Oji Fibre Solutions (NZ) Ltd

Planit Testing & Management Pty Ltd

Port of Napier

Radius Residential Care Limited

Rexel New Zealand t/a Ideal Electrical

Salus Aviation Limited

Sanofi-Aventis Australasia

Sealord Group Limited

Whakatane Mill Limited

Sistema Plastics Limited

SkyBus NZ Limited

SpecSavers New Zealand Limited

Spirax Sarco Ltd – New Zealand

The Cosmetic Clinic New Zealand Limited

Channel Infrastructure NZ Limited

The University of Waikato

The Warehouse Group

Warner Bros. International Television Production New Zealand

Watershed Limited

WOOP Limited

Work highlights

  • Represented Mt Cook Airline Limited in an appeal to the Court of Appeal on a question of law arising from a decision of the Employment Court.
  • Represented Skybus NZ Ltd in the Court of Appeal, where it was considered if the Employment Court erred in holding it had no authority to order a stay of a costs determination.
  • Represented Business New Zealand as intervenor in a dispute regarding an employer requiring its employees to use annual leave during a lockdown.

Lane Neave

With office situated across Christchurch, Auckland, Wellington, and Queenstown, the employment practice at Lane Neave is all-encompassing, covering disputes, immigration, and health and safety matters, through to privacy, human rights, and people and culture strategies. Andrew Shaw is the firm’s managing partner and notably serves on the New Zealand Law Society ACC Committee.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Shaw; Fiona McMillan; Andy Bell; Mark Williams; Rachael Mason; Julia Strickett


‘Everyone is very knowledgeable, they are very much people focused and very approachable and available. ’

‘I find the individuals I have worked with over the past 5 years able to provide no nonsense practical advice. They get rid of the legal jargon and help you understand the options available to you in a way that just makes sense!’

‘The depth of expertise within Lane Neaves team is amazing. It’s not just a one-person response. Where necessary the entire team is utilised to provide the specialist answers and responses. I have felt at ease to engage with Lane Neave on a variety of employment questions and issues for my company.’

‘Lane Neave is highly responsive in a timely manner. They apply critical thinking to all the opinions and advice they give.’

‘They listen and consider the client’s perspective with alacrity and a clear legal perspective providing excellent support in both advisory and litigious situations.’

‘Andrew Shaw is an outstanding practitioner. He is a wise and experienced legal mind, who provides incisive support and excellent service.’

‘Lane Neave provides big law firm quality at a much more affordable price. We especially appreciate their pragmatic approach to both advice and drafting and their willingness to package it in a way our board members can easily digest.’

‘We enjoy the relaxed and friendly style of the lawyers we use at Lane Neave across all levels. While they are all technically expert blackletter lawyers, they have taken the time to understand our organisation and our drivers and concerns.’

Key clients

Te Whatu Ora – Health NZ

Lifelinks New Zealand Limited

Winstone Wallboards

Accor Hotels

Work highlights

  • Advised Te Whatu Ora – Health NZ with on a long-term secondment arrangement, over a range of matters, such as complex serious misconduct investigation.
  • Acting for Lifelinks New Zealand Limited in a matter before the Employment Relations Authority, which is part of a number of cases being heard in New Zealand dealing with the complex legal issue of the employment status of caregivers.
  • Acting for Accor Hotels in relation to a wide variety of immigration matters, including training information to the HR and recruitment teams regarding key policy criteria.

Russell McVeagh

At Russell McVeagh, key pillars of the practice encompass union-related affairs, including related disputes, senior executive departures, health and safety issues, and employment-related regulation. The practice is fronted from Auckland by Kylie Dunn, whose track record spans collective bargaining, industrial action, professional misconduct, business sales, and personal grievances. Dunn is supported by Emma Peterson, who is praised as an ‘exceptional employment lawyer'.

Practice head(s):

Kylie Dunn

Other key lawyers:

Emma Peterson


‘Capability is second-to-none. The employment law team are commercially astute and provide operationally feasible options to our complex business.’

‘Having an in-house legal team, we are not after the run of the mill basic advice and Russell McVeagh always delivers advice on complex matters with options that we can realistically implement.’

‘Emma Peterson is an exceptional employment practitioner. She is always pragmatic in her advice and understands the needs of our business. She breaks down complex legal concepts into easily digestible pieces that our business can understand and provides practical, commercially appropriate options and recommendations.’

‘Emma Peterson is always available to pick up the phone and chat. She is responsive. She knows her area of expertise well.’

‘The team works together well, interchangeable from a customer perspective. Depth of experience in the industry and our company are a major benefit.’

‘Extremely experienced and knowledgeable, responses are usually immediate given vast knowledge base and ability to quickly get to the core legal issues.’

‘Very efficient, relevant and pragmatic.’

‘Both Kylie Dunn and Emma Peterson are outstanding in the 15 years plus we have been dealing with them.’

Key clients

SkyCity Entertainment Group

Tasman Cargo Airlines

Fisher Funds


High Performance Sport NZ

Revex Piling Limited

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd




Skyline Enterprises

Work highlights

  • Advising Fisher Funds on its purchase of Kiwi Wealth for NZ$310m and related integration matters.
  • Representing Uber in its appeal of the classification of drivers as either employees or independent contractors.
  • Representing Tasman Cargo Airlines in disciplinary processes with two pilots who were terminated for failing to follow lawful and reasonable directions in relation to health and safety.

SBM Legal

SBM Legal caters to a client base of domestic and international employers, high-profile unions, and government agencies. The Auckland-based team is led by managing partner Anthony Russell and also features Penny Swarbrick, a disputes expert with a focus on the retail sector, in addition to Bridget Smith, who often oversees independent investigations. Matthew McGoldrick is a go-to for retail, manufacturing, and sports sector clients, meanwhile special counsel Tim Oldfield is an industrial relations expert.

Practice head(s):

Anthony Russell

Other key lawyers:

Penny Swarbrick; Bridget Smith; Matthew McGoldrick; Tim Oldfield


‘Significant body of knowledge across industries, well-informed, and able to contextualise our needs and advice. ’

‘Partner really understands our business, the challenges we face, the practicalities of our workplaces and implications for advice that is provided.’

‘We have an in-house legal team, HR Team, and IR Team, so quite an internal capability, however we still find ourselves using SBM for their excellence in employment matters.’

Key clients

KiwiRail Limited

Waitemata – Te Whatu Ora Health NZ

CLL Service and Solutions Ltd

City Rail Link Limited

AUT University

Armourguard Security

Mitre 10 New Zealand Ltd

Gavin Pollard

Lyn Soapi, Danny Lau and Mary Lau

Pulp & Paper Workers’ Union

Concept Travel

Work highlights

  • Represented Te Whatu Ora – Waitemata in a very complex case that involved the inter-relationship of the legal concept of incompatibility and medical incapacity.
  • Represented Gavin Pollard in the High Court in a complex commercial dispute where employment rights and obligations and the jurisdiction of the High Court to entertain such claims (as opposed to the employment jurisdiction) was a significant aspect of the dispute.
  • Assisted a group of vulnerable migrant workers from Solomon Islands who did not receive the minimum standards of employment required in New Zealand on a pro bono basis.

Anderson Lloyd

Anderson Lloyd is co-headed by John Farrow, based in Dunedin, and Ashley-Jayne (AJ) Lodge, who works from Christchurch. Their team covers a broad variety of work, from workplace investigations, employment litigation, and disciplinary processes, through to restructurings, health and safety, and procedure and policy mandates.

Practice head(s):

John Farrow; Ashley-Jayne (AJ) Lodge


‘They are up-to-date with current knowledge, pragmatic with their solutions.’

‘They obviously know their business and the administration matches the attention to detail with their clients. Overall though they are just good people to do business with.’

‘John Farrow is exceptionally knowledgeable, relatable and for someone with his knowledge, experience and reputation refreshingly ego free and focused on his clients. Sincere engaging and focused, with a good sense of humour, I always feel better for having our paths cross.’

Key clients

Tetra Pak (New Zealand) Limited

ANZCO Foods Limited

Department of Conservation

Oceana Gold NZ Ltd

Scott Technology Ltd

Night ‘N Day Foodstores Limited

4Sight Consulting

University of Otago

Dunedin City Council

Te Whatu Ora – Southern

Work highlights

  • Represented Transport Services Southland Limited and Herberts Transport Limited in sentencing for a prosecution of multiple PCBUs under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
  • Acted for listed company Scott Technology Limited in Employment Relations Authority (and now Employment Court) proceedings.
  • Represented Hokotehi Moriori Trust in an Employment Relations Authority hearing (Wellington) regarding a dispute about whether a staff member was an employee or independent contractor.

Tompkins Wake

Tompkins Wake works across disputes, collective bargaining, personal grievances, restructuring, and misconduct mandates, in addition to health and safety, dismissal and disciplinary issues. The practice is led by Mark Hammond in Hamilton, and he is particularly astute in representing local government clients, though the wider team also holds expertise in industries such as retail, logistics, and manufacturing.

Practice head(s):

Mark Hammond

Other key lawyers:

Fraser Wood; Daniel Erickson


‘The Tompkins Wake employment team has supported us across a wide range of employment issues, from policy updates through to personal grievance claims.’

‘Diversity of competencies and skills.’

‘Knowledge and practical advice, they look to provide a level of ethical fairness to each party.’

‘A highly trusted and experienced team.’

‘Depth of knowledge and experience provides credibility and confidence.’

Key clients

Cotton On Group

Flight Centre Travel Group

Waste Management NZ Limited

Pact Group

Work highlights

  • Represented a transport contractor in a health and safety prosecution initiated by Maritime NZ following an incident on the Cook Strait ferry.
  • Early Settler Retail Group is a large New Zealand furniture retailer.

Wynn Williams

Home to expertise in legislation application, health and safety issues, disputes, and industrial relations, among other matters, the team at Wynn Williams is headed by Amanda Douglas; she operates from Christchurch and frequently advises on personal grievances, exits, misconduct allegations, restructuring, and performance management mandates. Key industries include the public sector, namely local authorities, in addition to construction, transport, healthcare, insurance, media, and retail.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Douglas

Other key lawyers:

Anthony Drake


‘Wynn Williams’ labour and employment team are readily available to assist with a myriad of employment issues, and there is always a lawyer willing to advise on practical steps to deal competently with a crisis. The team is unique, as they have a great understanding of the public sector and the added complexities that this environment brings.’

‘Amanda Douglas is a very approachable and levelheaded advisor, who has become a trusted contact that is able to cut through the noise and focus on the most pressing issues and navigate to a workable solution.’

‘Amanda Douglas is pragmatic and is able to provide appropriate legal assistance to keep our organisation safe and able to fulfil its obligations to its employees. ’

Key clients

McKay Limited

Turuki Healthcare Charitable Trust

Heart Kids New Zealand Incorporated

New Zealand Defence Force

Work highlights

  • Advising a client on negotiating with the Labour inspector to lift an improvement notice in place for a prominent racing stable.
  • Representing Turuki Healthcare Charitable Trust in various levels, up to and including the Supreme Court, in litigation arising in relation to a previously settled personal grievance.
  • Advising a client in negotiating a resolution to a complex personal grievance, with significant media attention on behalf of a high-profile national sporting organisation.