New Zealand Law Society - No bullying conduct by Retirement Commissioner found

No bullying conduct by Retirement Commissioner found

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Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell has returned to work after an investigation did not establish bullying conduct by her. The investigation report has been released by the State Services Commission.

Ms Maxwell has been on leave since December 2018 when, at the request of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi, the State Services Commission ordered an investigation by Maria Dew QC to consider:

  • Whether allegations that Ms Maxwell bullied current or former staff of the Retirement Commission can be substantiated;
  • Whether Ms Maxwell provided working conditions that were free from bullying, and the Commission for Financial Capability had systems and policies in place to support the management of staff concerns or complaints; and
  • Any other relevant matters arising, or which are necessary to provide a complete report.

“The investigation found that the benchmark to establish bullying conduct was not met, however conclusions in the Report do raise concerns about the effect on complainants,” says Mr Faafoi.

“My view is that conduct in every workplace should be courteous and professional and staff should be treated with respect. Ms Maxwell has given me her assurance that her return to work will see her focus on creating this environment and continuing to focus on the important work the Commission has to do to ensure Kiwis are best positioned for their retirement.”

Mr Faafoi says HR policies have been updated at the Commission and specifically, there is a new whistle-blower policy in place.

"Before returning to the office Ms Maxwell has agreed to a mitigation plan which includes enhanced monitoring and increased presence of senior Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment staff in the office, and chief executive Carolyn Tremain will be available to any staff where the Retirement Commissioner may be the subject of a complaint."

Ms Maxwell's contract as Commissioner ends on 30 June. She was first appointed to the role as Commissioner in June 2013. Recruitment for a new Commissioner began in March 2019.

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