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Investigation into the conduct and behaviour of the Retirement Commissioner

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 (Thursday 23 May) to finish her contract as Commissioner.

The Retirement Commissioner has been on leave since December 2018 when, at the request of the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Hon 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.”

Notes to editors

The SSC ordered report into the conduct and behaviour of Diane Maxwell can be found here.

Ms Maxwell will return to the Commission on Thursday 23 May. Her 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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