Employment Law

Chen Palmer’s employment law team can provide advice on employment law and HR related matters


Chen Palmer’s Employment Team is an award winning specialist team, led by Mai Chen who has many years experience advising clients and supported by talented Associates.

Chen Palmer was awarded Best Boutique Law Firm in 2010, and won best public law firm at the New Zealand Law Awards from 2007 to 2011, and in 2013. Chen Palmer was also a finalist at the New Zealand Law Awards for best employment law firm in 2011.

Chen Palmer and LexisNexis published the Employment Law Toolbox for Business in June 2013.  Chen Palmer is regularly called on to provide media commentary on employment issues.

 Our Services

Employment law can be a minefield and costly for both employers and employees.  Chen Palmer is committed to providing effective, value for money employment law advice to large and small organisations and individuals, and we have a history of delivering positive results for clients.

Chen Palmer regularly offers support to small and medium sized employers and also employees who need guidance and assistance with employment issues and processes.

Employment Agreements, Policies & Workplace Issues

  • Drafting and reviewing employment agreements;
  • Drafting and reviewing workplace policies and procedures;
  • Resolving employment problems and workplace issues;
  • Difficult employment conversations;
  • Aligning employee and employer needs;
  • Applying performance management steps;
  • Conducting disciplinary processes;
  • Negotiating remuneration packages;
  • Providing a contact person for employees if employers have no dedicated HR person.

Resolving Personal Grievances

Chen Palmer’s employment law team has a significant amount of experience representing both employers and employees to resolve employment problems:

  • In negotiations, mediation and arbitration;
  • In Employment Relations Authority proceedings;
  • In Employment Court proceedings;
  • In the High Court and appellate court proceedings.

Collective Employment and Bargaining

Chen Palmer advises companies on their engagement with unions, including strategic and legal advice in relation to collective bargaining, and advice on reforming the Employment Relations Act.

Chen Palmer advises on collective employment agreements and protocol documents for staff reviews as part of restructuring processes.

Chen Palmer can assist you in dealing with strikes and lockouts.

Health and Safety

Chen Palmer has experience in advising on, drafting and updating health and safety policies for all types of business, including compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act.  Chen Palmer provided a number of clients with tailored advice on the implications of the Pike River Report on health and safety in the workplace.

Drug and Alcohol Policies

Chen Palmer has been at the forefront of advising large employers in relation to workplace drug and alcohol policies.

Organisational Change, Restructuring and Redundancy

Chen Palmer has significant experience in organisational change, restructures and redundancy process and implementation.

Chen Palmer has experience in complex organisational change, particularly in the public sector with the merger and amalgamation of departments and Crown agencies. Chen Palmer is able to navigate the various challenges that such organisational change invariably brings using its unique combination of skills in employment law and public law.

Pay Equity

Chen Palmer’s Pay Equity Team provide expert advice on initiating and responding to pay equity claims.

With the revival of claims under the Equal Pay Act 1972 and the Government’s intention to pass new pay equity legislation, employers of female-dominated workplaces need to ensure that their employers are being paid the equivalent of male employees for equal work, and not being unfairly discriminated against.

Chen Palmer, in conjunction with the Superdiversity Centre, reviews organisations and identifies suitable gender comparators from which pay equity comparisons are made.  Chen Palmer is also able to assist employers, employees, and unions in bringing and responding to pay equity claims at every stage of the process from filing through to settlement.

Our Work

In 2016 Chen Palmer represented the New Zealand College of Midwives in landmark pay equity proceedings against the Ministry of Health. Chen Palmer argued on behalf of the College that the Ministry unlawfully discriminated against midwives on the basis of sex by failing to remunerate them in accordance with comparable occupations, including general practitioners and community pharmacists.  The proceedings resulted in a historic pay equity settlement, which saw community based midwives receiving a 6 per cent pay increase and greater involvement in designing pay structure and working conditions.

Our services

  •  Initiating and responding to pay equity claims brought under the Equal Pay Act 1972, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, and other legislation;  
  • Reviewing organisations to ensure that employees are being paid in accordance with pay equity principles;
  • Advising organisations, unions, and employees on appropriate comparators for pay equity claims;
  • Representing clients in pay equity proceedings in mediation, Employment Relations Authority, Employment Court, and High Court.


Mai Chen: Mai.Chen@chenpalmer.com

Anthony Hill: Anthony.Hill@chenpalmer.com

Emma Moss: Emma.Moss@chenpalmer.com