Russell Drake Consulting

Helping employers navigate the complex nature of applying Employment Law

"We exclusively help businesses and employers address and resolve employment relationship problems with legally compliant and practical law solutions .

As one of NZ’s leading Employment Relations and HR firms, Russell Drake Consulting provides specialist support to business owners and managers to enhance organisational efficiency, growth, and profitability.

We will work with employers to develop tailored solutions across a range of Employment Relations, Human Resources, Management, and Recruitment Disciplines.

If you are a business owner and you need advice or support, talk to us.

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Specialist Support

Industry Expertise

Practical Solutions

We have built a niche business across the human resource sector, which nestles itself between general HR companies and Law firms. We specialise in Employment Relations services, with our main focus being the practical application of Employment Law to help employers in the workplace.

Our Services - Helping Businesses

Employment Relations

With over 25 years of experience in helping Employers and their Managers by providing them with legally compliant, practically-based solutions to address and resolve employment relationship problems, we can provide a wide range of proven ways to resolve disputes and maintain relations.

Our experience and expertise enable us to work with Employers and Managers within the workplace, in Mediation and in the Employment Relations Authority.

Human Resources

We work closely with Employers across all industry sectors to ensure that their internal Human Resource systems and processes align to their business requirements.

Our “Best Practice” strategies ensure that all Human Resource processes are directly aligned to legislative obligations, while integrating ideas from professional research.

Other Primary Services


Whether it be for alleged Fraud, Personal Grievances, Complaints or Harassment in the workplace, we have the Licensed Private Investigators and Practising Lawyers (through our relationship with the EMA) that can undertake almost any employment related investigation.

We can manage the entire investigation process as a strictly impartial party or act as an external coach and reviewer of your internal investigation to ensure all procedural requirements have been met. With changes to the Private Security Act, outside of the Employer themselves, only Licensed Private Investigators and Practising Lawyers are able to undertake employment related investigations. These investigations must follow a strict set of criteria, and be handled by an impartial party. This therefore creates significant risks for internal investigations, as these can be easily challenged by Employee Representatives.

The nature of the investigations that we are commonly engaged to complete include:

  • Complaints regarding inappropriate actions and behaviours by staff or management
  • Bullying and harassment – including sexual harrasment and discrimination
  • Potential employee fraud
  • Customer complaints
  • Analysis of personal grievances

With several investigations on the go at any one time, we have the experience to run investigations in an efficient and time focused manner, providing our clients with the assurance that, in following our advice and process, they can be confident that they are in safe hands.

We are members of the Association of Workplace Investigators of New Zealand.

Collective Bargaining

For organisations that have a Union presence amongst their staff, the challenges of being able to agree on the collective terms and conditions of staff, without resulting in some form of industrial action, can be daunting. Union organisers always have the upper hand over employers with respect to their knowledge of industry related terms…..

 to their knowledge of industry related terms, conditions and pay rates with them often using this advance to push the Employer into agreeing to conditions greater than what may be justified.

However, as we are frequently engaged as the Employer Bargaining Agent, we have the depth of knowledge of industry specific conditions, pay rates and settlement details ensuring that we can ‘level the playing field’ for the employer party.

A company only needs to have two union members in order for them to request to be covered by a Collective Agreement, with this then covering all future new employees of the Company whose roles fall under the agreed coverage clause.
Approaching any collective bargaining process therefore needs to be undertaken from a strategic perspective to ensure that any resulting agreement does not become restrictive or burdensome for the Company.

If you are approached by a Union regarding a potential new Collective Agreement, or you have an existing agreement that is due for renewal, we are available to support you through this process to ensure that you get the results that you require.


A restructure may be required where an employee’s terms and conditions need to be amended to align to a change in the workplace structure or operations, where the number of roles are to be reduced or it may include retaining employees within a different capacity or on different terms and conditions.

Restructures are very difficult to get entirely right with this being proven by the fact that current Employment Authority statistics confirm that 87% of employee personal grievance claims for unjustified dismissal as a result of a restructure are successful. However, a recent Authority Case relating to a restructure managed by us on behalf of a client was successful with this demonstrating the quality of our advice and guidance.

The key aspects to a successful restructure process are ‘substantive justification’ – the decision to restructure the role is supported by factual evidence and ‘procedural fairness’ – the manner in which the restructure was undertaken is procedurally correct (in the eyes of the ERA). You must be successful in both of these areas to be certain that you do not incur unwarranted liability.

Over the years we have been in business we have assisted multiple clients in restructuring their businesses with many of these situations never being challenged beyond the actual restructure process in the workplace. Where they have been challenged our process and guidance has been proven, providing our clients with the assurance that in working with us they can be confident that they are in capable hands

Writing with pen

Personal Grievances

An employee is not required to have just cause to raise a Personal Grievance with some claims raised being more a form of ‘money grab’ through appealing to the employer to make some form of compensatory payment to make the issue go away. However, the majority of claims do have some merit however,

 these present a significant risk and liability for the employer. Current Hurt and Humiliation Compensation Payments ordered by the Employment Relations Authority, in the event of a successful claim by the employee, average approximately $13,000 with a number of successful claimants being awarded payments in excess of $20 – $25,000.

In addition to Compensation Payments, a successful Applicant has the potential to be awarded up to three months lost wages and approximately $4,500 in costs contributions resulting in a total cost to the Employer of over $60,000.

Being professionally represented when responding to a personal grievance is the key to reducing or avoiding this liability.
We provide full representation to Employers only (we do not do Employee Representation differentiating us from most law firms) with our total fees being significantly less than those charged by a law firm – who may not be a specialist in Employment law.
In the past few years, we have represented clients in over 152 Personal Grievance claims.

Employee Discipline and Performance Management

Poor performance management or disciplinary processes can lead to successful personal grievance claims – not only when this results in termination of the employee but also when a formal written warning is provided.
Getting the process right is critical, 

 Case Law statistics confirm that employee’s win the majority of claims, primarily due to a lack of good process by the Employer. When you incur a situation that warrants implementing a performance management or disciplinary process how this process commences will be as critical as how it concludes.
In such situations we act as ‘Advocate of the Employer’ in assessing the information to determine the actual allegations to be presented, drafting any correspondence to the employee, facilitating the meeting, assisting the employer to assess the responses and confirm the outcomes.

We adopt a strong ‘process-based’ approach to ensure that all procedural risks are removed and, through our assistance in the decision-making process, we are able to ensure that there is a solid substantial basis to the final outcome.
A small investment in accessing our skills and expertise may prevent the risks of more substantial payments having to be made where a grievance claim is raised.

In situations where the Trust and Confidence in the Employment relationship has diminished, we are able to broker Settlement Agreements on behalf of the Employer with these producing a full and final outcome that cannot be challenged at a later date.

Mediations and Employment Relations Authority Representation​

Where possible, we will  seek to resolve any employment relations dispute within  workplace, however, where this cannot be achieved, we provide a full representative service to Employers through both the Mediation Services of MBIE or

 through the Employment Relations Authority and Employment Court. In developing our representation approach, we adopt a strategic model that minimises risk and liability in order to enhance the prospect of a positive outcome for the Employer.

Our approach has resulted in us achieving success in Personal Grievance Claims where others considered the odds to be well in favour of the Employee (i.e. successfully defending a 90 Day Trial Period claim where the IEA was not signed until several weeks after the Employee commenced employment). We usually have approximately 6-10 Personal Grievance claims on the go in any one month.

In addition to supporting your business through these processes, if you have disputes between employees within the workplace that require resolving – as Accredited Mediators with the Resolution Institute of New Zealand, we are able to facilitate in-house mediation meetings to achieve full resolution.
Our fees for providing full representation in mediation and the ERA will be well below those charged by the traditional law firm, due to our ability to operate under a highly efficient business model.

Exclusive Employer Focus

We only provide our services to the Employer (or their Managers) assisting in the resolution of employment disputes and the development of the Organisation.

We are experienced in working across the full Employment Relations/Human Resources environment, from the workplace, through to the Mediation Services of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment and the Employment Relations Authority.

Our clients include small privately owned companies to large corporate organisations and cover all industry sectors.

Our services are based on a legally compliant but strategically focused framework that provides practical and cost-effective outcomes for the Business


Feel free to contact us for an obligation free conversation about how we can tailor our services to your Employment Relations and Human Resource needs.


Our Process


Get Set up The Right Way

Tailored contracts and documentation.

Get the process right the first time :
With fully legally compliant solutions and assistance you can trust.



We are here to help

Call us or email us first

All your questions answered:
We stand by our advice and offer expert analysis on all forms of employment disputes.



Lead the Process,

Your objectives achieved with our professional knowledge and support

Help at every step of the way:

We can support you through the situation or manage it on your behalf.



Russell Drake Consulting are licensed contractors to the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) within the Waikato Region, which enables us to have direct access to current and future employment and legislative information.

Employment Documents

Are your Individual Employment Agreements current? We are offering a free review of your IEA for the month of July. 

Contact us now

About The Firm

Meet Our Professionals

Ursula Pruden

Linda-Maree Drake

Russell Drake

Jana Laxon

Shivnal Gounder

Our Story

Russell Drake Consulting Ltd was founded in 2010 by Russell. Having spent a number of years working in the corporate world gaining experience and knowledge of the operational and organisational workings of different businesses, along with his university qualifications, he thought it was time to go it alone.

In the October of that same year, the opportunity presented itself to purchase the EMA licence for the Waikato, increasing the client base by 100%

At the beginning of 2011, looking for a career change, Linda-Maree resigned from her position as a Critical Care Nurse in ICU at Waikato Hospital to work full-time in the business to assist with business development, putting in place systems and processes to enable greater efficiency and room for future growth.

Over the next two years the business continued to grow at a rate of 20% year on year, through new client acquisition and profitability, establishing itself as a recognisable company within the Waikato Business Community providing practical, legally compliant employment solutions and advice to Employers.


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Call now for an obligation free conversation to discuss your needs.

We are proud to service clients across New Zealand and  Australian businesses who have divisions in NZ.


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