Labour and employment in New Zealand

Bell Gully

Bell Gully has a 'highly responsive, and highly skilled employment and workplace safety team' that frequently works with global law firms to handle high-value cross-border M&A transactions, as well as providing specialist advice on regulatory matters and disputes. Litigation partner Rachael Brown  in Wellington assists public and private sector clients with the implement of new regulations and acts in high-profile employment disputes. In Auckland, Tim Clarke is experienced in both employment litigation and health and safety matters, and newly promoted partner Liz Coats frequently advises employers on redundancy and restructuring issues. Senior associate Rosemary Wooders also plays a key role in the practice. Rob Towner left the firm to join Richmond Chambers.


“Rachael Brown is highly adept at managing expectations of different personalities and her pragmatic approach to providing advice and guidance and her ability to cut to the heart of the matter without causing offence is a key strength.”

“The firm is very professional, providing high-quality advice from a risk-based perspective. It takes time to understand customer circumstances and needs.”

“Engaging and very professional.”

“The firm provides extremely proficient turnaround time. It is always willing and able to provide advice. The team works well together so that if any one is occupied, someone else in the team can assist, thereby always there when we need them. In particular, I would call out Rosemary Wooders and Elizabeth Coats.”

Key clients



Federal Express

Railways Corporation


BP Oil







Estée Lauder

Frucor Suntory (subsidiary of Suntory)


Lyttelton Port Company

Vodafone New Zealand

Wellington Electricity Lines Limited

Sime Darby Motor Company

Work highlights

  • Representing Alliance Group Limited in relation to an incident in which a worker suffered amputation injuries to his fingertips at the Smithfield meat processing plant in Timaru.
  • Representing City Chic, Woolworths and Bidfood in significant Holidays Act reviews and non-compliance issues across the public and private sectors.
  • Acting for Goodman Fielder in bringing a judicial review application in the High Court seeking to set aside the decision of the District Court to accept for filing a private prosecution by an injured worker, following WorkSafe’s decision not to take any enforcement action
  • Advising AIA on the employment aspects of its AUD3.8bn acquisition of the Sovereign and CBA life insurance businesses

Buddle Findlay

At Buddle Findlay, 'every piece of advice is well researched and answered, and the team is practical and provides great response times'. Its national employment and health and safety law practice predominantly acts for large corporate employers, both public and private, in complex employment and industrial relations issues, as well as handling health and safety compliance, WorkSafe investigations and enforcement actions. In Wellington, head of the firm's national employment Peter Chemis has 'a fantastic reputation', and Hamish Kynaston is highly regarded for his work in the public, health and education sectors. Sherridan Cook is the key partner in Auckland, where 'fantastic' senior associate Mere King is a rising star. Susan Rowe leads the Christchurch employment team and is particularly known for strategic advice to local authorities and government agencies.

Practice head(s):

Peter Chemis; Sherridan Cookl Hamish Kynaston; Susan Rowe

Other key lawyers:

Mere King; Andrea Pazin; Holly Hedley


“Mere King and Sherridan Cook provide great customer service. They always respond on same day with good quality and worthwhile advice.”

“The team is really responsive and generous with its time and advice.”

“The advice is really sound, provides options and identifies risks with any course of action.”

“The team at Buddle Findlay has made time to get to know our company and culture inside out, so the advice is aligned with how we operate. They are pragmatic and approachable.”

“They apply pragmatism and common sense to the legal environment. They work quickly and efficiently and give great practical advice! They have a sense of humour and don’t overcomplicate things.”

“Mere King and Sherridan Cook are the two lawyers we deal with regularly and I have total trust in their guidance.”

“Our organisation is in good hands when Sherridan Cook and/or Mere King is on the case. Having worked with a number of employment law specialists I have reference points for comparison, and their employment advice is at the top of the game.”

Key clients

Vodafone New Zealand Limited

New Zealand Police

Hurunui District Council

SKY Network Television Limited

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

New Zealand Post

Lumino Dental Limited

Christchurch City Council

Selwyn District Council

Wellington City Council

Auckland UniServices Limited

Ministry of Social Development

Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Children

Alliance Group Limited

ANZ Bank

Coca-Cola Oceania Limited

GHD Limited

New Zealand Blood Service

Callaghan Innovation

Landcorp Farming Limited

Manukau Institute of Technology

Unitec Institute of Technology

Ara Institute of Canterbury

Massey University

Department of Corrections

Colgate-Palmolive Limited

Steel & Tube New Zealand Limited


Emirates Airlines

Navico Auckland Limited

Ministry of Housing and Urban Development

Wellington International Airport

Contact Energy Limited

Trade Me Limited

Lockheed-Martin Global, Incorporated

Te Tumu Paeroa (the Māori Trustee)

McDonalds Corporation

Methanex New Zealand Limited

New Zealand Customs Service

Department of Conservation

Central Agency Shared Services (the Treasury)

Ministry of Justice

The Walt Disney Company (Australia) Pty Limited

NZX Limited

GE Capital Finance Australasia (Pty) Limited


Toyota New Zealand Limited

Swissport New Zealand Limited

Reserve Bank of New Zealand

New Zealand Transport Agency

Primary ITO

Eastern Institute of Technology

Western Institute of Technology

Work highlights

  • Advising the Department of Corrections on an unjustified dismissal claim brought by a long-serving employee.
  • Acting as strategic employment and health and safety advisors for Hurunui District Council, the firm provided advice on threatened industrial action from a union.

Dundas Street

Dundas Street is a boutique employment law firm based in Wellington that handles the full scope of employment law for clients across New Zealand. The firm is on the government's employment law panel and provides services to many local and central government agencies, including Wellington City Council, the Inland Revenue Department, Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the Ministry of Health. It also acts for large corporate clients such as Fletcher Building and Cigna Life Insurance. It is frequently involved in high-profile litigation including matters arising from  collective bargaining and industrial action, broad-scale restructuring and senior executive exits. Susan Hornsby-Geluk (who has 'unmatched intellect and expert knowledge of employment legislation and case law') and Blair Scotland are the lead partners. Up-and-coming partner Ros Webby and senior associate Chloe Luscombe are also recommended. David Traylor was recently promoted to partner.

Practice head(s):

Susan Hornsby-Geluk; Blair Scotland

Other key lawyers:

Ros Webby; David Traylor; Chloe Luscombe


“This firm offers a comprehensive range of employment law expertise. The services extend beyond legal services. It can also assist with matters like policy development.”

“The people are highly skilled, know their work and are also very personable. I appreciate the ability to challenge appropriately and work with you to achieve outcomes.”

“The team has the ability to quickly build a strong understanding of the business, including operational requirements and cultural elements. They look to understand the risk profile of the business as well and then provide the advice that is appropriate to manage the situation within this.”

“The team does not just give the legal theory, they apply the legal requirements to the business situation to provide a pragmatic, risk-based solution. The depth of knowledge within the team means they can advise on a wide range of issues, from high-level strategy through to tactical matters and communicate in such a way that frontline managers can easily understand the situation and suggested solution.”

“I would consider Susan Hornsby-Geluk to be the pre-eminent employment lawyer in NZ and her team is equally as strong. Her level of knowledge regarding employment legislation, and in particular collective negotiations, is second to none and I would struggle to find another practitioner to rival her in this area.”

“Susan Hornsby-Geluk has an innate ability to see issues and situations from both sides and as such provides a much more effective and efficient solution. She is also extremely personable and down to earth and so fits in with our operational culture. She is equally comfortable talking to the chief executive as she is to one of our frontline managers.”

“The firm provides prompt, authoritative advice and assistance across the full spectrum of employment-related issues.”

“The firm has a proven track record of excellent performance including difficult ER issues, collective employment agreement negotiation and complex employment investigations from Susan Hornsby-Geluk and Blair Scotland in particular.”

“Dundas Street’s partners and associates are specialist employment lawyers. Susan Hornsby-Geluk is Wellington’s – and arguably New Zealand’s – leading employment lawyer. Susan and her associates provide expert advice very quickly. They therefore give excellent value for money compared to other firms we have used.”

“Susan Hornsby-Geluk’ss skilful and persuasive oratory has been invaluable in assisting us to quickly settle employment disputes.”

“A specialist employment law practice that provides pragmatic advice and proven experience with a responsive team that takes the time to understand our business and issues.”

“Susan Hornsby-Geluk is enthusiastic, available, interested in our business and our issues, and always provides pragmatic, no-nonsense, real-world advice, often with a couple of alternatives for consideration. Her specialist knowledge and experience in employment law in NZ is well recognised and as one of the country’s largest employers, we rely heavily on her advice and appreciate her challenge as we think through major national issues.”

“It is unique because of its proven focus around a specialist area of the law supported by highly qualified and engaged personnel who are results-driven and client-centric in their approach to service. They remain human in their approach under pinned by strong technical skills accumulated over many years in many situations.”

“The partners I worked with were extremely engaged and had genuine understanding of, and empathy for. the position we were navigating our way through. They were available when needed, were very responsive and, perhaps more importantly, supported and guided us without seeking to be in control and or the centre of attention.”

“The general availability, instant response, honesty, flexibility, commitment, sense of humour, depth of knowledge, approachability, soundness of approach, understanding of what we do and a practical focus on solutions and outcomes is the best I have worked with. It has a really genuine partnership approach, which is very rare.”

“They work well as a team and connect the dots. They are all customer-focused and excellent employment law gurus.”

Key clients

Accident Compensation Corporation


Alliance Group

Antarctica NZ

Aviation Security Services

Christchurch City Council

Cigna Life Insurance

Department of Internal Affairs

20 District Health Boards of NZ

Earthquake Commission

ELE Group

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Fletcher Building

Inland Revenue Department


Land Information NZ

Landcorp Farming

Lincoln University

Maritime New Zealand

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment

Ministry of Health

Ministry of Housing and Urban Development

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa

NEC New Zealand

New Zealand Nurses Organisation

Ngai Tahu Group

NZ Police Association

Palmerston North City Council

Parliamentary Service

Ryman Healthcare

Wellington City Council

Work highlights

  • Acting for the 20 District Health Boards in New Zealand through the shared services agency which provides industrial relations advice and centralised bargaining.
  • Advising the New Zealand Parliamentary Service on its unique employment arrangements, which include “events-based contracts” such that employees are beholden to a particular elected member or minister, and their term of employment is linked to that Parliamentary term.
  • Advising Accident Compensation Corporation on multiple changes to hundreds of employees’ roles and ways of working as part of its vision for vision for ‘Next Generation’ case management and agile services.
  • Acting for Northland District Health Board in an Employment Court litigation challenging dismissal of a doctor for prescribing drugs of dependence to her partner.
  • Assisting and advising the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development in a disciplinary process relating to allegations that arose from a series of complaints that had been made about the Head of HUD’s KiwiBuild Unit.


MinterEllisonRuddWatts is one of the leading firms for employee relations, industrial laws, health and safety and privacy matters. The firm has 'a great team that is very accommodating and easy to engage with'. It has extensive experience in dealing with industrial relations issues for clients such as Qantas Airways. Last year, it handled bargaining processes and industrial action matters, as well as court actions relating to breach of good faith claims. Megan Richards leads the practice in Wellington, where she advises public and private sector clients advising on the full range of employment law issues. The 'warm, knowledgeable, and pragmaticGillian Service , who specialises both Employment law and health and safety matters, is head of the Auckland team. Special counsel Emma Warden and senior associate Chris Baldock are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Megan Richards; Gillian Service

Other key lawyers:

Aaron Lloyd; Emma Warden; Chris Baldock; June Hardacre


“The approachability of the senior partners and associated staff, the pragmatic current advice based on what is going on locally, the ability to strategise with other consultants as well as us as the client are all key features of the practice.”

“Gillian Service is fast to play out scenarios and responsive to local needs as well as global directon.”

“Gillian Service is an outstanding lawyer who I rely on for advice, not just on legal matters but on the holistic approach to a situation. She is very pragmatic, and understands the specific needs of our organisation and industry.”

“The team has a range for skills and experience and able to cover all areas of practice that are required. The key strength is that they ensure their advice is tailored to our needs and the level of experience we have our in organisation.”

“Chris Baldock makes himself available to answer all our questions when quick responses are required and he also gives timeframes to reply when more in-depth research is required.”

Key clients

Perpetual Guardian Trust

Zespri International Limited

SkyCity Entertainment Group Ltd

Parliamentary Service

Honda New Zealand Limited

Qantas Airways Limited and Jetconnect Limited

Deloitte Limited

ASSA ABLOY New Zealand Ltd

Rabobank New Zealand Limited

AWF Limited

Work highlights

  • Providing strategic advice to the Board of Perpetual Guardian Trust (PGT) around the implementation of a progressive new policy that would reshape how PGT works.
  • Providing employment advice to Zespri International Limited on contentious and non-contentious matters including drafting employment agreements, advising on disciplinary investigations and performance matters, cross-jurisdictional matters such as international secondments and global restructures, and negotiating settlements.
  • Acting for Go Bus Transport (New Zealand) Limited on all employment and industrial related matters.
  • Advising the Parliamentary Service on an independent review into bullying and harassment in NZ’s Parliament.
  • Acting as sole advisers to Qantas New Zealand based subsidiary Jetconnect Limited on employment and health and safety matters, as well as aviation regulatory matters.

SBM Legal

Specialist employment law boutique SBM Legal in Auckland has 'four excellent partners' and frequently acts for New Zealand’s largest corporates and leading multinational employers. Among its marquee clients are McDonald’s Restaurants (NZ) Ltd and New Zealand's largest supermarket chaing Foodstuffs North Island. While it predominantly acts for large corporations, the firm also represents senior executives and a small number of specialist unions, as well as providing employment law services for boutique corporate firms. Practice head Don Mackinnon  and leading lights Kathryn Beck, the 'highly knowledgable and articulatePenny Swarbrick and Bridget Smith are highly recommended. Senior associates Matthew McGoldrick and industrial relations specialist Tim Oldfield are rising stars.

Practice head(s):

Don Mackinnon

Other key lawyers:

Kathryn Beck; Penny Swarbrick; Bridget Smith; Matthew McGoldrick; Anthony Russell; Michelle Bowen; Sarah Ongley; Robbie Bryant;


“The firm has a solid overview of our industry alongside of other industries and their breadth of knowledge of wider industry issues is shared without compromising the confidentiality of their clients or the sensitivity of the information.”

“Penny Swarbrick is able to both provide opinions and guidance where necessary.”

“The firm has good knowledge of NZ employment law and a very practical approach to matters raised from the unions we deal with.”

“Penny Swarbrick and Tim Oldfield have a lot of experience in industrial relations.”

“The best employment law team in NZ!”

“A practical, pragmatic and talented team. Penny Swarbrick is the best there is.”

“A boutique employment firm with very high level of specialist knowledge. Practical, pragmatic and good to work with.”

“Don Mackinnon is an excellent and very experienced employment lawyer with particular expertise in relation to Union/IEA negotiations.”

“Matt McGoldrick is an up-and-coming employment lawyer.”

Key clients

Rightway Limited

City Rail Link Limited

McDonalds Restaurants (New Zealand) Ltd

Kaikorai Service Centre Ltd

New Zealand Rugby

Work highlights

  • Representing RightWay Limited in the Employment Court in relation to a claim by a Business Partner that payments made obtain an ownership interest in a fee-base were “premiums” for employment.
  • Representing a Crown entity in relation to potential litigation in the Employment Relations Authority regarding a claim by an employee made redundant during a fixed term period of employment.
  • Advising McDonald’s Restaurants in relation to wide range of matters arising from internal audit of Holidays Act compliance including negotiation strategy with MBIE and the union, legislative interpretation and compliance, and remediation communications and processes.
  • Successfully represented employer Kaikorai Service Centre Limited in the Employment Court in a claim by a Union that there had been a breach of good faith because the employer wished to bargain a wages clause that provided for a methodology of setting wage rates for employees, but did not set out the actual wage rates.
  • Chairing Respect and Inclusion Advisory panel of experts with responsibility for guiding, advising and supporting the work of NZ Rugby in its implementation of the recommendations of the Respect and Responsibility Panel contained in the 2017 report.

Simpson Grierson

Simpson Grierson has 'sound employment law knowledge and a wealth of experience within the team, which provides friendly, relatable and down to earth advice'. The firm has specialist knowledge in health and safety matters, providing legal support and strategic advice to companies in a broad range of sectors; industrial relations, having represented employers in leading test cases and developed case law around union rights; due diligence and corporate restructurings; advising boards and CEOs on sensitive negotiations; and investigations on behalf of employers relating to sexual harassment, bullying, health and safety, culture and crisis management. Highly recommended practitioners include practice head Phillipa Muir and key partners John Rooney and Shan Wilson and rising star senior associate Rebecca Rendle in Auckland, as well as Wellington-based partner Samantha Turner.

Practice head(s):

Phillipa Muir

Other key lawyers:

Samantha Turner; John Rooney; Shan Wilson; Carl Blake; Bronwyn Heenan; Rebecca Rendle


“We have used Shan Wilson and Pip Muir who are both are extremely professional and accommodating, and provided the correct and informative advice for us over various employment situations. They are relatable and understand how modern HR practices work.”

Key clients

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Limited

University of Auckland

Ministry of Education

OMV AG and OMV New Zealand Limited

Kaipara District Council

Counties Manukau District Health Board

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ)

Trojan Holdings Limited (THL)

Ministry of Social Development

Auckland District Health Board

New Zealand Football

Work highlights

  • Represented Auckland District Health Board in the Employment Relations Authority in successfully defending a claim of interim reinstatement sought by a senior clinician.
  • Appointed by New Zealand Football in June 2018 to lead an independent review of complaints by Football Ferns players and possible code of conduct breaches within the organisation.
  • Advising a number of employers in the public and private sector on issues with inadvertent non-compliance with the Holidays Act 2003 (NZ) and their obligations to remedy holiday pay underpayments.
  • Provided ongoing employment law advice and support to Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (FPH) in relation to a number of matters over the past 12 months, including  assistance with FPH’s holiday pay remediation process, advising on investigations, advising on disciplinary processes, advising in relation to FPH’s upcoming collective bargaining and representing FPH in mediation.
  • Represented the University of Auckland in relation to a claim of unjustified action (disestablishment of position) and unjustified dismissal brought by a former employee.

Anthony Harper

Anthony Harper invested in its employment practice last year with the hires of Auckland-based health and safety expert Grant Nicholson from Dentons Kensington Swan and Christchurch-based immigration specialist Nicola Tiffen from Cavell Leitch Pringle & Boyle. They are among three lead partners along with Jackie Behrnes in Christchurch. The firm has notable expertise in employee and industrial relations, HR, employment law, disciplinary investigations and dismissals, restructuring and redundancies, managing poor performance and long term illness, Holidays Act advice, executive remuneration, health and safety, immigration law, privacy issues, and equal employment opportunities and discrimination law. Tiffen's group handles applications for visas, immigration accreditation, and difficult immigration matters such as deportation and health and character-related issues.

Practice head(s):

Jackie Behrnes; Grant Nicholson; Nicola Tiffen

Other key lawyers:

Kathryn McKinney


“Jackie Behrnes and Nicola Tiffen are both accessible and approachable – they strive to become true business partners to our company and understand our needs first. In addition to this, they offer their expertise in plain language and offer practical solutions to our business needs. We feel we are in safe hands.”

Key clients

PGG Wrightson Seeds Limited

Pacific Radiology Group

Arvida Group Limited

Connetics Limited

Jamestrong Packaging NZ Limited

Hellmann Worldwide Logistics

Lululemon Athletica New Zealand Limited

Metropolitan Glass and Glazing Limited

Much Moore Ice Cream Company Limited

Hilton Haulage LP

Carter Holt Harvey

Oji Fibre Solutions

Villa Maria


Leighs Construction

Smart Environmental

Allpress Coffee

Work highlights

  • Advising Smart Environmental Ltd after an employee of a contractor fell from his truck and was fatally run over by it.
  • Advised McConnell Dowell on negotiation of an enforceable undertaking to resolve a prosecution after the employee of a subcontractor was harmed during the installation of an electrical substation.
  • Acted in the prosecution and sentencing of Carter Holt Harvey after a worker was crushed during maintenance repairs to a machine.
  • Advised Linfox Logistics on a prosecution by WorkSafe after an incident in a distribution centre where a forklift hit a contract driver.
  • Advised Wintec Council on the lawfulness of the reinvestigation of historic sexual harassment allegations against the CEO and the process for reinvestigation, 5 years after the original investigation

Chapman Tripp

Chapman Tripp has a broad domestic and international client base that includes large domestic corporates such as Beca Limited and New Zealand Steel, as well as multinationals such as Fuji Xerox and Philip Morris. As well as handling the employment aspects of some of New Zealand’s most significant corporate transactions, the firm advises on high-profile and sensitive matters such as the exit of senior executives and corporate restructurings. Marie Wisker leads the practice from Auckland and provides both employment law and professional indemnity advice to the firm's large employer clients. Garth Gallaway in Christchurch leads on health and safety matters. He has extensive experience in H&S investigations and prosecutions, both on direct instructions and through insurers.

Practice head(s):

Marie Wisker

Other key lawyers:

Garth Gallaway; Geoff Carter; Vonda Engels


“Garth Gallaway’s team has strong capability in health and safety defence work. Jo Appleyard is excellent in employment disputes – efficient, effective and commercial.”

Key clients

Fuji Xerox New Zealand Limited

New Zealand Steel Limited

Pan Pac Forest Products Limited

Eastland Port

Beca Limited

Philip Morris (New Zealand) Limited

Peter Baker Transport Limited

Athenberry Holdings Limited

Oceana Gold (NZ) Limited

The Meat Industry Association of New Zealand Incorporated

Work highlights

  • Acted for Athenberry in the first defended case under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
  • Acted for Oceana in an appeal regarding the measure of loss for income in fatality cases under the HSWA.
  • Acted for Niagara and Tasman Tanning in arguing two of the first three sentence appeals under HSWA, before a full bench of the High Court.
  • Advised Alpine, the operator of a helicopter company, when they were charged by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) after a fatal accident on Fox Glacier which killed 7 people.
  • Acted for Agricentre South in the first appeal of a reparation award under HSWA

DLA Piper New Zealand

DLA Piper New Zealand acts for domestic and global clients in employment and health and safety matters. Its work encompasses high-level strategic services for global, regional and local clients, cross-border matters, start-up advice for inbound organisations, corporate reorganisation, international mobility advice, support for M&A transactions, and investigations. Practice head Laura Scampion has almost 20 years' experience in advising employers, including listed companies, on non-contentious matters such as outsourcing projects, corporate restructures, multiple terminations and health and safety audits. Special counsel Melissa Johnston is a rising star. John Hannan  has moved to the Bar and Bankside Chambers.

Practice head(s):

Laura Scampion

Other key lawyers:

Melissa Johnston; Julia MacGibbon

Key clients


Fonterra (New Zealand’s largest company and employer)

Verizon Wireless

Foodstuffs (New Zealand’s largest supermarket group and NZ’s second largest company and employer)

IAG (NZ’s largest general insurer)





Auckland Council (and its Council Controlled Organisations)

Mondelez (Cadbury)

Newell Brands


Yashili Group

PB Technologies

High Performance Sport NZ

Local Cover Group


Work highlights

  • Acting on the New Zealand aspects of Project OFG, being the internal reorganisation of Pfizer into three global business units (being innovative, established medicines and consumer).
  • Acted for Accel-KKR on all aspects relating to its acquisition of the Seequent Group.
  • Acted for Yashili International Group Limited on the sale of its 49% interest in Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co., Limited to Danone Asia Pacific Holdings Pte. Ltd.
  • Acted for Dechra Pharmaceuticals PLC on its acquisition of New Zealand assets held by Caledonian Holdings Limited and BioRelease Technologies Australasia Limited and Australian assets held by Caledonian Holdings Distribution Pty Limited (now FASBNP Pty Ltd) (Sellers).
  • Acting for Allianz Group, and advising on the CEO’s challenge to the Employment Relations Authority decision to the Employment Court.

Hesketh Henry

Hesketh Henry in Auckland has a dedicated employment practice that handles the full range of advisory, compliance, negotiation and dispute resolution work. It is particularly noted for its strength in legislative compliance, employment-related litigation and health and safety issues. Clients remark that the 'exceptional' team provides 'excellent communication and extensive knowledge'. Seasoned partner Jim Roberts and newly promoted Alison Maelzer lead the practice. Roberts has nearly 27 years' experience and frequently assists employers with collective bargaining, personal grievance processes, disputes, human rights, health and safety and accident compensation. Maelzer's work includes compliance with statutory obligations, restructuring, transfer of undertakings, disciplinary processes and collective bargaining.

Practice head(s):

Jim Roberts; Alison Maelzer

Other key lawyers:

Jodi Sharman; Sam Houliston


“There is always at least one of the employment team available and regardless of who you are dealing with they share your situation with the rest of the team. That means that even if your main contact is unavailable, someone else can always help.”

“The information sessions they host are great for getting up to date with relevant info and the chance to ask questions of the experts.”

“I find the employment team at Hesketh Henry very approachable and realistic about the application of the law to the actual employment environment. They know that there are times you need to take a path that may open you up to risk, they are non-judgmental and instead advise of the risk and how to mitigate it.”

“We are always given great advice with all the options.”

“They make you feel at ease and are very knowledgable.”

“Jim Roberts is especially good for employment law.”

Key clients

Restaurant Association of New Zealand

Smith & Caughey Limited

Suncorp NZ Employees Limited

Corrections Association of New Zealand

Coastal Oil Logistics Limited

Juken New Zealand Limited

Northpower Limited

Chubb Insurance NZ Limited

Baker Tilly Staples Rodway Limited

Mondiale Freight Services Limited

Work highlights

  • Provide regular advice and support to is the largest privately owned freight forwarder in New Zealand, Mondiale Freight Services Limited, on a range of employment relations and compliance matters.
  • Providing ongoing support and advice to Suncorp NZ Employees Limited on a range of employment relations and compliance matters, as well as assistance in resolving disputes.
  • Providing ongoing support and advice to Corrections Association of New Zealand on a range of employment relations and compliance matters, as well as assisting and representing CANZ’s members.
  • Providing employment documentation including employment agreements, policies, disciplinary procedures, summaries of legislation, and forms, to the 2000 employer members of Restaurant Association of New Zealand.
  • Providing regular support and advice on a wide range of employment relations and health and safety matters in New Zealand to Baker Tilly Staples Rodway Limited.

Dentons Kensington Swan

Dentons Kensington Swan has a large practice with a stable of leading corporate and public sector clients. It has particular expertise in the retail, creative, aviation and technology sectors, providing advice on strategy, compliance and litigation. Its recent work includes handling  restructurings, contractual issues, performance management and ill health, misconduct and relationship issues, and statutory obligations. Greg Cain in Wellington handles health and safety matters alongside employment law. He is co-head of the practice along with Charlotte Parkhill in Auckland. Health and safety specialist Grant Nicholson joined Anthony Harper but the firm hired James Warren from Fieldfisher in London who has extensive experience in multi-jurisdictional projects and business transformations, complex reorganisations and the implementation of global HR policies. His recent work includes restraint of trade litigation, ex-employee misappropriation of confidential information claims.

Practice head(s):

Greg Cain; Charlotte Parkhill

Other key lawyers:

James Warren; Sarah-Lee Stead

Work highlights

  • Advised Linfox – the logistics partner for Woolworths – a prosecution by WorkSafe New Zealand, after a truck contracted by Linfox attended a distribution centre to collect goods for delivery to supermarkets and, during loading, the truck driver was hit by a forklift.
  • Successfully represented the New Zealand Transport Agency in a case brought by a former employee who exited pursuant to a settlement agreement requiring each party not to disparage each other.
  • Representing the New Zealand Police in an appeal to the Employment Court, arising out of various alleged health and safety breaches affecting an officer who was assaulted by a member of the public.
  • Represented The Order of St John in an appeal from the Employment Relations Authority decision in the matter of Hilford v St John Northern Regional Trust Board.
  • Advised the Hastings District Council on a range of significant health and safety issues, including its obligations relating to the collapse of a cliff at Cape Kidnappers, which resulted in serious injuries to some tourists walking to a nearby gannet colony.

Kiely Thompson Caisley

Kiely Thompson Caisley is a highly regarded employment litigation firm and clients praise its 'specialist knowledge and expertise, its technical ability, its experience, its reputation and its credibility, as well as a high calibre of staff'. Among its clients are household names, including Air New Zealand, Bunnings and Foodstuffs North Island, though it also acts for overseas and multinational corporate clients. Alongside employment law, the firm also handles health and safety matters and employment-related immigration services for corporates and individuals. Peter Kiely, Andrew Caisley, David France (who is 'totally reliable and consistent and has great work ethic') and Simon Lapthorne are the four experienced partners leading the practice. Senior associate Scott Worthy is a rising star.

Practice head(s):

Peter Kiely; Andrew Caisley; David France; Simon Lapthorne

Other key lawyers:

Scott Worthy


“David France’s standout qualities are excellent knowledge and expertise, wide-ranging experience and an understanding of our business. He is extremely personable, engaging, inspires confidence and shows sound judgement. I have total trust in his advice.”

“The firm understood our business needs, issues and complexities and helped us navigate a safe path through a very difficult situation at a business and personal level for all parties.”

“Their knowledge of industry, the connections they have to help us in times of need and their ability to think broader than just the specific issue being addressed are very important.”

“The firm has specialist knowledge and expertise, wide experience, sound judgement, and a willingness to listen and understand our business.”

“The team is extremely personable and insightful, and has great communication skills and an excellent understanding of our organisational culture.”

“We appreciate the personalised and quality service. The partner and support people make a point of knowing our business.”

“The boutique nature of the firm is a distinct advantage in comparison to other firms. We have worked with them for a decade and they know and understand the industrial and employment issues we face.”

“Andrew Caisley is the partner who does the vast majority of our work. He is a standout strategist.”

Key clients

Air New Zealand Ltd

Airbus Express Ltd

Assignment Group

Brand Developers Ltd

Bunnings Ltd

Foodstuffs North Island Ltd

Fullers Group Ltd

Hapag Lloyd (New Zealand) Ltd

J P  Morgan Chase Bank

Mercury NZ Ltd

NZ Bus Ltd

Oji Fibre Solutions (NZ) Ltd

Port of Tauranga

Radius Residential Care Ltd

Sealord Group Ltd

The Order of St John

University of Waikato

Yamaha Motor New Zealand Ltd

Work highlights

  • Represented JP Morgan Chase Bank in relation to High Court proceedings involving a former senior employee claiming breach of a settlement agreement, injurious falsehood and negligent misstatement.
  • Represented Cityline in a collective agreement dispute as to whether it was lawful for employees to work within a specific region following significant changes made by local government to public transportation systems.
  • Represented Business NZ as Intervenor in a Full Court case involving the interpretation of a clause in a collective agreement and in particular whether that clause was an availability provision.
  • Represented Transportation Auckland Corporation Ltd in a dispute involving summary dismissal following an investigation into an employee’s serious misconduct.
  • Handled a significant collective bargaining dispute and strike action on behalf of The Order of St. John.

Lane Neave

Lane Neave is one of the firm's on the All of Government panel and provides a Workplace Law service that covers health & safety, ACC and immigration issues, alongside the traditional core areas of employment law. The firm frequently handles mediations and hearings in the Employment Relations Authority and Employment Court, as well as providing advice on Supreme Court matters.  It acts for several national member-based associations and has clients in a range of industry sectors including tourism, banking, food processing, mining, transport, health and tertiary education. Andrew Shaw in Christchurch and Fiona McMillan in Auckland lead the practice, which also provides services to client through the firm's Queenstown and Wellington offices.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Shaw; Fiona McMillan

Other key lawyers:

Hannah Martin

Key clients

Fulton Hogan

Halfway Bay Station

Development West Coast

Uber NZ

Work highlights

  • Provided employment related due diligence advice to Fulton Hogan Limited and advised on significant areas of risk and drafted employment warranties and indemnities to be included in a sale and purchase agreement.
  • Provided liability advice to Halfway Bay Station Limited under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 following a serious accident.
  • Provided legal advice and assistance to Development West Coast on restructuring and redundancies.
  • Providing advice to Uber New Zealand on local employment law policies and practices.

LangtonHudsonButcher, Lawyers

LangtonHudsonButcher, Lawyers in Auckland is a boutique employment law and industrial relations firm that focuses on high-level matters that require experience and specialist expertise. It represents some of New Zealand’s largest employers on their more complex and demanding employment law matters, including contentious matters, corporate transactions or advisory work. Its recent work includes a growing number of cases related to sexual harassment, Labour Inspectorate investigations, and Holiday Pay claims, as well as increase collaboration with corporate law boutiques in large M&A deals. The 'practical, professional and accessible' Stephen Langton is 'an exceptional lawyer'. Emma Butcher frequently acts for major national and international businesses, and Andrew Schirnack 'consistently provides sound reliable advice'. Angela Evans and Ronelle Tomkinson are now partners.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Langton; Emma Butcher; Andrew Schirnack; Angela Evans; Ronelle Tomkinson


“The firm has great bench strength. Most of all i want someone to resolve my problem, not tell me the law, and the lawyers here solve problems.”

“The employment advice provided by the team is easily understood and very practical. The response to our questions is always swift.”

“The team at LangtonHudsonButcher understands the employment relations capability I have and, as a result, the advice provided is always on point and value-add.”

“The small size of the firm enables all of the team members to be over the different cases which is fantastic when one is away. They have recently assisted us with a very complicated employment law criminal case and their counsel was outstanding.”

“I can only say fantastic things about them and having worked with a number of different employment law firms in Auckland I rate them heads and shoulders above the rest.”

“Stephen Langton is outstanding – his willingness to share his experience and expertise to grow my own is what makes him stand out from the others. He is quick to get to the heart of the matter and understands and works within our risk tolerances that may vary from very high to very low.”

“This is a boutique employment law firm and the access to excellent advice, at reasonable rates, is important. We have always received pragmatic and commercial advice, and I have never had to second guess them.”

“On the rare occasions the partner is not available, the associates are just as talented and knowledgeable.”

“Stephen Langton is excellent. Very intelligent, he communicates well and simplifies things. His advice is pragmatic, commercial and always on the money. I never have concern or doubt his advice.”

“I deal solely with Andrew Schirnack and he is pragmatic, accessible, knowledgable and balances risk well. He always provides sound advice.”

Key clients

Abano Healthcare Group Limited

Bank of New Zealand

Tourism Holdings Limited

Bayleys Realty Group (including Bayleys Real Estate Limited)

Restaurant Brands Limited (which operates KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks in New Zealand and Carl’s Junior in New Zealand).

EROAD Limited

GEA Process Engineering Limited

Spark New Zealand Trading Limited

Les Mills Holdings Limited

Postie Plus Group Limited

Lancom Technology Limited

Deloitte NZ

Xero Limited

Vector Limited

Freightways Express Limited (which owns New Zealand Couriers, Messenger Services Limited, Post Haste, Castle Parcels, Fieldair Holdings, TIMG and New Zealand Document Exchange)

Paymark Limited

Godfrey Hirst Limited

NZME Publishing Limited


Harmos Horton Lusk Limited

Tree Scape Limited

Huawei New Zealand Limited

Tower Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised and appeared for Tourism Holdings Limited in a Holidays Act test case and successfully removed it from the Employment Relations Authority to the Employment Court,
  • Instructed by Restaurant Brands Limited in relation to a series of claims by Mr Arora, a former employee in its KFC business, who fell into a deep fryer whilst cleaning the vents above it, back in 2015.
  • Acted for Restaurant Brands Limited in an Employment Court minimum entitlement case against two Pizza Hutt franchisees.
  • Acted for GEA New Zealand Limited in Employment Court cases about the power of the Employment Relations Authority to strike out claims and to award costs to non-parties.
  • Advised Madison Dearborn Partners on the New Zealand employment-related aspects of MDP’s acquisition of SIRVA Inc.

Russell McVeagh

In Russell McVeagh's Auckland office,  Kylie Dunn leads a small but impressive employment practice that handles the full range of employment matters, with particular focus on more complex issues and challenging issues. Its work encompasses assistance with strategy, union-related matters, the exit of senior executives, negotiations with regulators, and advocacy at all levels of the court system. Of particular note is its work in collective bargaining, industrial action and disputes concerning the interpretation of collective agreements. It also has a strong health and safety practice. Among Dunn's clients are large corporates such as IBM New Zealand, Auckland International Airport and SKYCITY Entertainment Group.

Practice head(s):

Kylie Dunn


“The firm provides practical advice grounded in case law and realistic risk assessments, rather than risk-averse prima facie directives.”

“Kylie Dunn is a strong practitioner and partner. She provides our company with training for our teams, practical updates as legislation changes and evolves and is both extremely responsive as well as practical with her advice.”

Key clients

Auckland International Airport Limited

Evolve Education Group Limited

IBM New Zealand Limited

Norske Skog Tasman Limited

Sanford Limited

SKYCITY Entertainment Group

Smiths City Group Limited

T&G Global Limited

Woolworths Limited (General Distributors Ltd; Progressive Enterprises Ltd)

Visionstream NZ Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Sanford Limited on a settlement agreement dispute concerning the enforceability and reach of settlement obligations in the employment jurisdiction.
  • Advised Smiths City Group Limited on proceedings commenced by the Labour Ispector alleging failure to comply with the Minimum Wage Act by not paying employees for a 15 minute meeting before the start of each shift.
  • Acted for Solutions Personnel Limited in proceedings brought by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment alleging that contractors engaged by it were in fact employees, and were entitled to at least the minimum wage for each hour worked.
  • Advising Visionstream on its obligations as the principal to contractor relationships, when the contractor is in breach of its employment obligations.
  • Advising SKYCITY on the employment aspects of the sale of its carpark.

Anderson Lloyd

Anderson Lloyd has an experienced employment partner in Dunedin who leads a practice that delivers advice through all four of the firm's offices. Litigation partner John Farrow has narrowed his practice to focus on employment disputes and regularly appears before the New Zealand Employment Relations Authority and in the Employment Court and Court of Appeal. One client remarks that Farrow and associate Fiona McMillan are 'responsive and engage in discussions that help find the right solution - they don't rush in with preconceived ideas and are not afraid to tell it like it is'. The practice has particular expertise in the education, mining, irrigation, rural and agri-business, health and local government sectors.

Practice head(s):

John Farrow

Other key lawyers:

Fiona McMillan; Malcolm Couling; James Cowan


“I have found them to be competent, knowledgeable and importantly reliable. When they say they will help. they do help.”

“The advice they give is delivered to you in the best possible way, they make it straightforward and without fuss. They make you feel supported.”

“The team is responsive and provides sound advice. They have taken the time to really understand our organisation and its complexities and challenges.”

“They offer balanced opinions and I don’t ever get the impression that they are trying to make more work to get more money. They understand our financial constraints and that we need to be conscious of our spend so they provide fit for purpose solutions with this in mind.”

“The firm has the ability to think outside the square.”

“The firm has an excellent reputation, with value for money, high standards, a collaborative approach and an awareness of clients’ needs and deadlines, very professional. It is my first choice for employment advice.”

“John Farrow is a pleasure to deal with. He works really hard at building a strong client relationship and is very reactive to his clients’ needs and deadlines. Equally, his team are enabled to progress things in his absence and their work is to a very high standard.”

Key clients

Alliance Group Limited

AgResearch Limited

Aurora Energy

Bramwell Scaffolding Limited

Centre City New World Limited

Columba College

Crombie Lockwood

Delta Utility Services

Donald Beasley Institute

Dunedin City Council

Ellisons Aluminium Limited

Giltech Precision Castings Limited

H & J Smith Limited

James Wren & Co Limited

Mercy Hospital Dunedin Limited

NZ Principals’ Federation Scheme

North Otago Irrigation Company Limited

Oceana Gold (NZ) Limited

Otago Museum

Otago Polytechnic

Otago University


Port Otago

Principals’ Advice & Support Limited

Presbyterian Support Otago

Southern District Health Board

Tetra Pak (New Zealand) Ltd

The Otago Chamber of Commerce Inc.

Vero Liability

Waitaki District Council

Wells Instrument & Electrical Services Ltd

Work highlights

  • Appearing for Alliance Group Limited in the case of van Kleef v Alliance Group Limited [2018] NZERA Christchurch 159.
  • Advising a client regarding response to casual employee’s claim for 6 years’ back pay for annual leave, other leave and service related entitlements (Holidays Act).
  • Advising a client regarding complaint from a Union about employee on Individual Employment Agreement instead of Collective Agreement – involving possible back-pay.
  • Advising a client and facilitating independent investigation into alleged bullying and sexual harassment by a Senior Medical Officer complained about by a Junior Medical Officer.
  • Advising a client on collective bargaining with NZ Trade Union surrounding compliance with Minimum Wages Act and Minimum Wage Order.

EY Law Limited

The employment law and health and safety practice at EY Law Limited focuses predominantly on non-contentious employment matters, including strategic advice on cultural change, health and safety gap assessments, restructures and integrations, employee incentives including employee share schemes, holiday pay compliance and international employment relationships. Shelley Kopu joined the firm from ASB Bank to lead the practice, following the departure of former practice head Christie Hall to join Fonterra. Kopu has more than ten years' experience in both contentious and non-contentious matters. The firm is regarded as a prominent player in the holiday pay compliance space and also frequently advises on the niche areas of Trans-Tasman employee mobility and employee incentive schemes.

Practice head(s):

Shelley Kopu

Other key lawyers:

Frank Peters

Wynn Williams

At Wynn Williams, employment law is handled by the firm's dispute resolution group, though practice heads Amanda Douglas in Christchurch, who 'brings an excellent sense of commercial reality to the table', and Anthony Drake in Auckland focus exclusively on employment and health and safety matters. Douglas focuses on disputes, while Drake has more than 20 years' experience in all aspects of contentious and non-contentious issues including advisory work, dismissals, discrimination, and employment implications for commercial transactions, redundancy, restraint of trade, confidential information, and industrial disputes. One client remarks that 'we found them very effective - not only well versed in the law, but able to advance effective strategies to help us achieve our desired outcomes'.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Douglas; Anthony Drake

Other key lawyers:

Sophie Carter


“Anthony Drake has been my go to employment relations legal counsel for years. I trust him unequivocally. He is a completely seasoned professional and knows ER law inside and out. I have also learned a great deal from working with him.”

“Given his busy schedule, Anthony Drake never seems too busy to respond to queries for assistance and he always responds in a timely manner. I cannot fault the service I have received from him.”

“Amanda Douglas is a standout lawyer. She is able to intuitively see the issue and advance great solutions that balance risk and commercial pragmatism effectively. She is extremely good in face-to-face situations with the other party and knowing how to manage their expectations downwards.”

“The team has strength in depth. Excellent internal communication ensures that our needs are serviced carefully and promptly by a well-briefed team who understand our business. The team is also very responsive and accessible so that advice can be sought quickly. Attention to ongoing matters is thorough and prompt.”

“I value the speed with which the partner who looks after our business has got to grips with our business – the specific business sector, technical requirements, the culture and ongoing issues. She offers pragmatic advice, setting out all of the options and advising thoroughly through the decision making process. I also value the proactive support we receive in keeping our policies, process and employment agreements up-to-date and fit for purpose.”

Key clients

William Rudling

New Zealand Council of Victim Support Groups Incorporated

AIG Insurance

Gasser Partner

DFS New Zealand Limited

Royal District Nursing Service New Zealand Limited

Canterbury Regional Council

Paul Kelly Motor Company Limited

BOC Limited

Truck Stops (NZ) Limited

Work highlights

  • Represented an employee in a complex claim for a personal grievance  and involved allegations of disloyalty and misleading and deceptive conduct.
  • We carried out a review of employment agreements and drafted employment agreement templates for a large non-profit organisation, New Zealand Council of Victim Support Groups Incorporated.
  • Instructed by AIG Insurance to defend a hospitality company in a personal grievance matter, by minimising procedural errors.
  • Strategic advice to Liechtenstein law firm Gasser Partner for management of social enterprise organisation the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.
  • Represented and provided strategic advice to DFS New Zealand Limited regarding employee allegations of sexual harassment against another employee.