(d) Individual representation and legal services
Joining the PSA gives individual members access to the collective benefits of union membership. In addition individual members have access to help if things go wrong for them at work or they are subject to unfair treatment.
This help is available through the following.
- The on-line and telephone help desk service provided by the PSA organising centre, for advice and information.
- Delegates, who are often the first point of contact and can provide support members, including in meetings with management.
- Organisers, who will try and resolve problems in the workplace, but who can take personal grievances through to mediation.
- The legal team of the PSA who provide legal advice and support to organisers and represent members in a range of legal forums.
The PSA is committed to representing the legal interests of its members. Full membership represents an authority to represent, but not an obligation for the union to act as representative in all matters relating to the member’s employment, including where individual members have problems at work.
Where members have problems at work, the PSA’s aim is to achieve settlement without recourse to the provisions of the Employment Relations Act. However the law provides a framework within which the parties to a dispute or grievance can work to resolve the problems that have generated the dispute or grievance.
Note: The taking of any case is subject to the member taking the advice of the PSA and not authorising any other legal advocate. If, at the point of joining the union, a member has a problem requiring the active support of the PSA, the union is not obliged to take the case.
It is PSA policy to:
- take cases where it has been assessed that the affected member (or members) has a better than 50% chance of success before the Employment Relations Authority and the taking of the case is not inconsistent with the PSA’s objective and strategy;
- take legal cases, possibly including those where the chance of success is less than 50%, that advance the strategic interests of the union and have organisational value.
The PSA does not provide professional indemnity insurance cover but may provide legal and support services for members who are the subject of investigations or prosecution by professional bodies such as registering authorities under the Health Practitioners’ Competence Assurance Act 2003, or investigatory bodies such as the Health and Disability Commissioner. The services are offered according to the following guidelines:
- These services are offered at the discretion of the PSA and would normally only be provided in cases where the employer has refused to observe their common law obligation to indemnify their employees, or the circumstances make it too difficult or inappropriate for the member to approach the employer.
- The PSA does not provide compensation for costs or fines incurred, or any other expense over and above legal costs.
- Organisers provide initial support and support in low level dealings with registering authorities and other professional or investigatory bodies.
- Legal representation is provided where it is inappropriate for organisers to do so.
- Legal representation may be offered to members and former members, who find themselves facing action even though they have left their employment.