Wellington Scoop

Retirement Commissioner cleared of bullying allegations, returning to work

News from NZ Government
The investigation into the conduct and behaviour of the Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell did not establish bullying conduct and Ms Maxwell will return to work tomorrow to finish her contract as Commissioner.

The Retirement Commissioner has been on leave since December when, at the request of the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs 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 Kris 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.”

“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 maybe the subject of a complaint.

“The Commission carries out vital work for all New Zealanders. I want to thank Peter Cordtz who has been Acting Retirement Commissioner since December and all the staff who have been working in some uncertainty while this matter had undergone due process.”

Statement from Retirement Commissioner
I am pleased that the report found that bullying conduct had not occurred and I am looking forward to returning to work. This has been an incredibly difficult period for me and my family, and I want to thank my partner and children for their enormous support.

While the report made a finding of no bullying, it did indicate that some previous staff had difficulty with my communication style. I have reflected on the points made and will ensure that my communication style is professional, courteous and respectful to all staff.

I want to thank Peter Cordtz for doing such a great job as Acting Retirement Commissioner, and my staff for carrying on with some wonderful work through a difficult time.

The focus for my remaining period in office will be on the CFFC objectives of delivering financial capability and increased wellbeing. It is such important work. We’ve got a number of projects about to become effective for the benefit of all New Zealanders, and I look forward to sharing news of these with you soon.