36th Industrial and Employment Relations (IER) Summit

Navigating the shifting regulatory tides of the ER landscape

Event Details


Registration and coffee
Mihi whakatau
Opening remarks from the Chair
Blair Scotland, Partner, Dundas Street Employment Lawyers
Ministerial Address: Reviewing the current employment policy landscape
  • Proposed and upcoming legislative updates and changes
  • How employers can prepare for proposed changes
  • How the business, employment, and workplace relations landscape may evolve
  • Wider societal considerations
Hon Michael Wood, Minister of Transport, Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Deputy Leader of the House
COVID-19 and the impact for Employer Relations
Dealing with home-based/flexible workforce issues
  • Flexible working/WFH policies
  • Managing flexible working arrangements in instances of regional lockdowns or related disruptions
  • Health and safety considerations
  • Wellbeing and communication
  • Managing performance for remote employees
  • Equity considerations for flexible working
Steph Dyhrberg, Partner, Dyhrberg Drayton Employment Law
The polarisation of choice – examining mandates for employees and what this means going forward
  • Limitations under the Bill of Rights
  • Examining implications under The Health and Safety Act 2015
  • The impact this will have on employee/employer relations and what it means for the future of employment law
Amanda Douglas, Partner, Wynn Williams
Morning break
COVID-19: Topical issues update – Part A
  • An overview and analysis of recent notable cases that have appeared before the courts
  • Notes from international approaches and legal challenges and how this compares to New Zealand
  • Examining the ethical and legal outcomes for the employment law field
Charlotte Parkhill, Partner, Dentons Kensington Swan
Panel: Topical Issues update – Part B

Issues and challenges related to COVID-19 are fast-moving and ever-evolving. This segment will examine the most up-to-date challenges and trends related to COVID-19 in March 2022. Topics touched on will include:

  • Vaccinations: The intersection of employment law and human rights
  • Understanding and enforcing vaccination mandates
  • What are the obligations of employers when staff are required to isolate, or test positive for COVID-19?
  • Redeployments and terminations related to vaccination status
  • Obligations and rights of contractors
Kirk Hope, Chief Executive, BusinessNZ
Kathryn McKinney, Partner, Anthony Harper
Hamish Kynaston, Partner, Buddle Findlay
Lunch break
Understanding the new health and safety terrain
  • COVID-19 breaches and WorkSafe enforcement action: will infection lead to prosecution?
  • Undertaking a COVID risk assessment for your organisation, and when to seek expert input
  • Notifiable events and investigations in a pandemic – how should these be managed?
  • Disseminating timely and accurate health and safety information to your employees
  • Addressing psychological safety and wellbeing in times of uncertainty and unease
Greg Cain, Partner, Dentons Kensington Swan
James Warren, Partner, Dentons Kensington Swan
Panel session: Exploring union relationships

This panel session will consider union stances on top COVID-19 employment issues including vaccination mandates and flexible working environments and discuss how this will shape current and future relationships between employers and unions to support COVID-19 related policies.

Emily Griffin, Solicitor, E tū
Rachel Mackintosh, Vice-President, NZCTU
Benedict Ferguson, President, PSA
Border Entry, Immigration and the “Re-balance”: New Zealand’s biggest employment challenge?
  • Navigating around or through cracks in the wall - the latest on ability to secure border entry for skilled talent
  • Phased border opening from 1 May -  what that looks like for addressing skill shortages
  • Greater employer responsibility and accountability - the path to employer led visa processing
  • Crystal ball gazing - what is the future of utilising immigration for NZ employers?
Mark Williams, Partner, Lane Neave
Afternoon break
Culture and conduct
Uncovering new guidance for investigations – process, practice, and regulation
  • What is the new guidance around the use of independent investigators, and why are they necessary?
  • Impartial workplace investigations: the Australasian Association of Workplace Investigators (AAWI) new code of ethics and other moves towards regulation
  • What is the standard of proof required for investigations? Evidence from recent case law
Mere King, Partner, Buddle Findlay
Spotlight on the Privacy Act (2020)
  • How did the Privacy Act 2020 perform in 202?
  • Medical information and privacy considerations – what do employers need to keep top of mind?
  • Analysing recent cases before the courts
  • Privacy and Confidentiality: do these help in enforcing restraints of trade?
Kathryn Dalziel, Barrister, Walker Street Chambers
Restructuring, redundancies, and redeployments: Practical strategies for getting it right
  • When do you use the restructuring process?
  • Recent developments in the area of restructuring and redundancy
  • Issues around automatic redeployment
  • Identifying and anticipating potential hurdles to actively avoid dispute processes
Fiona McMillan, Partner, Lane Neave
Summary remarks from the Chair & Networking Drinks
Welcome back from the Chair
Shelley Kopu, Principal, Shelley Kopu Law
ER insights
Understanding the incorporation of Te Ao Māori into ER settings
  • Diving into understanding and respecting tikanga – ways to weave tikanga authentically into your employment relations practices
  • Discussing the significance of tikanga for the world of employee relations, including disciplinary processes
  • Undertaking alternative dispute resolutions – ensuring interactions are mana enhancing and embracing Te Ao Māori disputes processes
Alice Anderson, Senior Policy Advisor , Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu & Consultant , Dundas Street Employment Lawyers
Exploring medical incapacity in the workplace
  • Defining medical incapacity – parameters and compounding factors
  • Managing mental health when it affects performance
  • Preparing for ‘long-COVID’ - how will increased absenteeism be diagnosed, managed, and dealt with in employment policy?
  • Understanding your options when working with ACC and GPs
Sherridan Cook, Partner, Buddle Findlay
Morning break

Breakout sessions begin - delegates choose session A or B

Session A Chair: Shelley Kopu, Director, Shelley Kopu Law
Session B Chair: Charlotte Parkhill, Partner, Dentons Kensington Swan

Session A: Defining employees and contractors
  • Distinguishing between contractors and employees
  • Recent cases of significance
  • Obligations when working with contractors
  • Contractor’s rights and obligations in respect to choice of vaccination
  • Upcoming legislative changes
Alastair Espie, Senior Associate, Duncan Cotterill
Session B: Uncovering disciplinary processes
  • Examining serious misconduct and complications which can arise
  • Discussing best practice and necessary steps in the instance of dismissals
  • Exploring reinstatement cases: What does this process look like?
Jessie Lapthorne, Partner, Duncan Cotterill
Session A: Managing drug, alcohol, and related issues
  • Implementing fit for purpose employee policies that meet legal guidelines
  • Discussing employer obligations around drug and alcohol testing
  • Examining relevant case law
Andrew Shaw, Partner - Electricity, Employment, H&S & Accident Compensation, Lane Neave Lawyers
Session B: Successfully engaging with unions and collective bargaining
  • Good faith relationships
  • Rights and obligations during bargaining
  • Bargaining tools and tips
  • A quick overview of strikes and lockouts
Kylie Dunn, Partner, Russell McVeagh
Session A: Employee misuse of social media and the spread of misinformation
  • Developing fair and transparent social media policies
  • Handling reputational risks of misuse of social media
  • Steps to take when instances of bullying and harassment occur through social media
June Hardacre, Partner, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts
Session B: Fair pay agreements
  • Tackling new obligations in the industrial relations process
  • The elevated role of unions in the new system and what this might mean for businesses
  • Implications of increased compliance and direct employee costs
Laura Scampion, Partner, DLA Piper
Carl Blake, Special Counsel, DLA Piper
Lunch break

Delegates will be invited to choose their topics of choice at these facilitated discussions. Led by an industry expert, connect and network with your peers as you discuss the biggest challenges facing the employment relations industry.

2.00pm – 2.30pm - Round 1

2.30pm – 3.00pm - Round 2

Topics may include:

  1. Holidays Act 2003
  2. Privacy Act 2020
  3. Dismissals and redundancies
  4. COVID vaccinations and related mandates
  5. Immigration and visas
  6. Medical incapacity and mental health


Afternoon break
Masterful management of bullying and harassment in the workplace
  • Outlining the legal obligations of an employer in light of bullying accusations and steps to take when faced with a complaint
  • Examining recent case law and what can be learnt from employment court findings
  • Recognising forms of harassment including microaggressions
  • Mitigating wider negative outcomes of bullying for businesses
  • Taking action to promote a culture of awareness and trust
Jennifer Mills, Director - Head of Practice, Jennifer Mills & Associates
Resilience, grit, and influencing a brighter future

In a time of uncertainty and change, resilience is a more important skill than ever. Recognising the ER professional’s role in driving a positive culture of wellbeing, this session will consider:

  • Influencing a workplace culture that prioritises psychological safety
  • Getting your organisation on board with wellbeing initiatives
  • Remaining authentic in your management of burnout and stress
John Eatwell, Director, Strategic People Group
Closing remarks from the Chair and end of conference
  • Conference
    (2 for 1 applies)
  • $2799 + GST
  • 14 - 15 Mar 2022
  • Virtual