The maintenance of healthy work relationships is at the core of preventing employment relationship problems. The Employment Relations Act 2000 aims to facilitate the input of productive employment relationships through the promotion of good faith. Section 4 of the Act details that all employment relationships must be conducted in good faith and built on mutual obligations of trust and confidence. But what is the concept of good faith? How can it be maintained and promoted?

Section 4 of the Employment Relations Act 2000

Good faith is a statutory obligation. It is an expansive concept within employment law that is fulfilled in many different ways. Section 4 of the Act details that, whilst good faith incorporates trust and confidence, it goes further than this.

Employers and employees must be active and constructive in building and maintaining their relationship. This includes being responsive and communicative and extends to communicating decisions that are going to impact on someone’s employment. It is evident that an honest and transparent relationship must be created. Workplace policy can be formed to create the foundations for good employment relationships. By having processes in place, relationships held in good faith are more likely to be promoted as there are structures designed to enforce this.

A Well-Designed Workplace Policy

Workplace policy needs to be designed to encourage an open and transparent relationship between employers and employees.

Policy is effective as it provides clear guidelines for what is expected of parties. By formulating policy around the good faith principle, the obligations of both parties are more likely to be fulfilled and the employment relationship maintained. Policy can dictate many aspects of a business. There could be policies around applications for annual leave, health and safety issues and performance reviews.

Any policy that is created should promote the principle of good faith, for example, guidelines around performance, lodging complaints and giving feedback on the workplace. These create open and active interactions that connect employees and employers to ensure a productive relationship. By having channels that promote active engagement, employment relationship problems are less likely to arise.

Having open channels to communicate and processes in place to work through issues is the best way to prevent employment relationship problems. By formulating policy around creating a comfortable workplace, the principle of good faith is likely to be met and productive relationships will be promoted.

For more guidance, contact the employment lawyers at Bell & Co on (04) 499 4014.