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Workplace Relations Adviser

Kaitohutohu Takawaenga Mahi

Alternative titles for this job

Workplace relations advisers help resolve workplace disputes. They also provide support and advice for employees and employers.


Workplace relations advisers with some experience usually earn

$73K-$90K per year

Workplace relations managers usually earn

$90K-$140K per year

Source: Hays, 'Hays Salary Guide 2015', 2015.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a workplace relations adviser are poor due to limited vacancies and strong competition.


Pay for workplace relations advisers varies depending on experience and the nature of their work.

  • Workplace relations advisers with some work experience or qualifications usually earn between $73,000 and $90,000 a year.
  • Workplace relations managers and advisers for large organisations usually earn between $90,000 and $140,000.

Source: Hays, 'Hays Salary Guide 2015', 2015.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Workplace relations advisers may do some or all of the following:

  • set up appointments for parties to meet for mediation
  • guide disputing parties to help them understand the situation from all perspectives
  • help parties come to a mutual agreement
  • help write the agreement for the parties to sign
  • organise and give public presentations to community agencies, schools and other organisations
  • assist with employment agreement negotiations
  • work with organisations to prevent disputes.

Skills and knowledge

Workplace relations advisers need to have knowledge of:

  • dispute-resolution methods such as negotiation and mediation
  • employment law
  • the Treaty of Waitangi
  • workplace issues
  • industrial relations
  • management methods.

Workplace relations advisers who specialise in a particular industry, such as construction, tourism or insurance, need to have knowledge of that area.

Working conditions

Workplace relations advisers:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may be required to work longer hours, including evenings and weekends, to complete negotiations
  • work in workplaces, government departments, community law centres, private offices and union offices
  • can work under stressful conditions as they may have to deal with upset, angry people
  • may travel locally and regionally to venues such as marae, community halls or worksites to conduct mediations.

What's the job really like?

Juliette Darnley

Juliette Darnley

Industrial Adviser

People can do really odd things at work, according to Juliette Darnley.

"There is so much to this job – there is something new every day. The phone rings and I don’t know what it’s going to be – people do really bizarre things in their employment. I love the war stories!"

Improving school life for children

Helping to solve unusual work issues is not the only reason Juliette loves her job. She gets satisfaction from the fact that her work with boards and principals in 220 schools is important to education. "I know that I’ve made a difference to the education of so many children just in doing the job I do. When teachers aren’t performing well, they’re not teaching well, and the students aren’t learning well. I work with the schools to actually help resolve that situation."

Life and work experience crucial

"You’ve got to have life skills – you’ve got to have been around the block to understand this role," says Juliette.

"Being non-judgemental is definitely a key quality, as well as understanding and empathy to help employers make hard decisions. I am often part of the process where the employer is considering terminating a person’s employment, so you have to ensure that this is balanced with respect for people."


Entry requirements

There are no specific entry requirements to become a workplace relations adviser, but a degree or diploma in one of the following areas is recommended:

  • human resources or business management
  • law
  • disputes resolution and mediation
  • social work
  • industrial relations or psychology.

Work experience is crucial and knowledge of the employment sector you represent is important.

Employer training preferences

Many employers prefer that you have studied a dispute resolution course so you can get accredited with a dispute resolution institute.

Some government-employed workplace relations advisers must have a law degree.

Secondary education

To get a degree you need a university entrance qualification (NCEA Level 3). To do a diploma you usually need NCEA Level 2. Useful subjects include English, te reo Māori, history, maths, economics and languages.

Personal requirements

Workplace relations advisers need to be:

  • good at solving problems and making decisions
  • mature and impartial
  • able to motivate, coach and inspire trust in others
  • able to relate to a wide range of people
  • good at listening and communicating
  • able to evaluate, explain and write reports on complex and technical issues
  • able to keep information private
  • organised.

Useful experience

Useful experience for workplace relations advisers includes:

  • legal work
  • work with trade unions or community advocacy groups
  • human resources work
  • counselling, teaching or social work
  • work involving negotiation
  • work as a personnel, training or recruitment officer.


Workplace relations advisers can choose to register with one of two bodies:

  • Arbitrators' and Mediators' Institute of New Zealand
  • Resolution Institute.

To gain registration you may need to pass a test. Once registered, you will need to do professional development or work a set number of cases each year to remain registered.

Find out more about training

Arbitrators' and Mediators' Institute of New Zealand Inc
0800 426 469 - institute@aminz.org.nz - www.aminz.org.nz
The Resolution Institute
0800 453 237 - leadrnz@xtra.co.nz - www.resolution.institute
The Skills Organisation
0508 754 557 - support@skills.org.nz - www.skills.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Vacancies for workplace relations advisers are limited because:

  • the number of roles is declining gradually
  • organisations tend to temporarily hire advisers from agencies, rather than employing their own full-time advisers.

Competition for workplace relations adviser vacancies that do arise is strong because human resources professionals often see the role as a good progression.

Demand best for workplace relations advisers in growth industries

Your chances of getting work are best if you have experience or expertise in growing industries such as engineering and construction.

Workplace relations advisers who specialise in change management also have more chances of finding work, as some workplaces need to reduce the number of staff they have to save costs and stay competitive.

Types of employers varied

Workplace relations advisers may work for:

  • government departments
  • unions
  • industry workplaces
  • agencies.

Some workplace relations advisers work for private companies or independently as consultants.


  • Auckland University of Technology, 'A Future in Human Resource Management and Employment Relations', 21 October 2015, (www.aut.ac.nz).
  • Darnley, J, industrial adviser, New Zealand School Trustees Association, Careers New Zealand interview, February 2016.
  • Fairway, 'Fairway Annual Report 2015', 20 December 2015, (www.fairwayresolution.com).
  • Hays, 'Hays Salary Guide 2015', 2015, (www.hays.net.nz).
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Independent Dispute Resolution Providers in New Zealand: a 2015 Snapshot', 31 July 2015, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
  • Robert Walters, 'Robert Walters Salary Survey 2016', 2016, (www.robertwalters.co.uk).

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Workplace relations advisers can specialise in a particular industry such as construction, tourism or insurance.

Workplace relations advisers may go on to work in change management or set up their own dispute resolution consultancy.

Last updated 20 October 2020