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Industrial Relations

Suggested Timeframe: 2-3 hours


To help students become familiar with aspects of industrial relations from both the employer and employee points of view.

Every employer needs to have a good understanding of their compliance obligations under specific industrial relations legislation. This protects both employers and employees and encourages productive workplace relationships.


Activity 1. Understanding the concepts

Students could start by discussing definitions for the concepts 'Industrial Action', 'Union' and 'Minimum Employee Rights'. After they have shared their ideas in class, distribute the Industrial Relations Student Handout to discuss and clarify the concepts.

Activity 2. Looking at the law

In the Industrial Relations Student Handout you will find a link to the New Zealand Legislation website, which lists in detail each employment law in the country. Individual students or groups can pick a law each – or have one assigned to them – to research, before reporting back to class on what that law covers. The learning could then be clarified by asking students what their rights are as employees.

For a more in-depth look at the law, ask students to also find an example of a legal case that has tested their chosen/assigned law by searching the online MBIE Employment Law Database.

Activity 3. Disciplinary Scenario

Ask students to consider the scenario in the worksheet before deciding on three courses of action. You could follow up their answers by outlining how important it is for a small business to make sure they follow employment law (possible consequences: time lost, legal costs, financial damages, etc.) despite the difficulties of managing human resources.

Activity 4. Unfair Dismissal

Have students answer the Unfair Dismissal questions in the worksheet before clarifying the learning by asking if any of them know anyone dismissed from a job who took action against their employer. You could discuss the situation and its outcome, before relating it back to the three questions.

Last updated 11 November 2016