Mircam Services celebrates two decades in business this year and principals Fergus and Wendy Mackay see no reason to stop yet.
"It was a challenge from the outset," says Fergus. There was no benchmark in 1997 against which they could measure the future success of a business specialising in Employment Law.
"The marketplace was becoming difficult when it came to employment relationship problems, it was still under the Employment Contracts Act. The need was something I thought I had some skills that I had got from [former employment with] the Police and Social Welfare about people; people in conflict. Plus the human resource management side of it, so I wasn't just dealing with employment relationship problems, it was actually making sure it was more preventative than curative. So, individual employment agreements; they were non-existent back then."

Fergus says the law then required a greater compliance on employers and employees were probably getting more rights, in some respects.
"It was an imbalance and it was political. If you had a National Government it tended to favour the businesses; if you had a Labour Government it would tend to favour the workers and the unions. It was a pendulum type of environment. Every time there was a change the law would accommodate the new power."

Fergus says they never thought Mircam Services would last because it was an unknown field.
"But through Wendy's determination we got on with it. It was the partnership of husband and wife that got us through and keeps us going."
He says that even after 20 years, the nature of the work - dealing with people and conflict - is still stressful.
"It's become depersonalised and people don't really matter; the law applies. There's a certain removal of the humanity part of it."

He says some people have a little knowledge - which is a dangerous thing - and imagine they can sort disputes without professional help.
"It costs money to get advice, but good advice saves you money."

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Fergus has done hundreds of mediations, dozens of Employment Relations Authority hearings.
"I've seen it from every side ... and there are no winners."
Fergus has a wealth of experience and knowledge of employment law.
"I know how it works having examined case law since the Employment Relations Act has been in play since 2000. We started with a new Act, totally fresh, strange to everybody. We learned on our feet."

He says the Act has created an atmosphere of formality in which employee and employer can't have a relaxed discussion because procedural requirements make it risky to do that. He calls the result "absurd".
He credits Wendy and their senior consultant Sharon McDonald -who has been with them 14 years- with keeping the business focused.
"I look at the positive sides but I'm also a realist. There are some things I can change, but there is a growing amount I can't change."

The people at Mircam see both sides of every issue and have represented employers and employees without favour. The law dictates how decisions are made but it's knowledge and understanding of that law which makes Mircam Services unique.

Mircam Services, Suite 1, Rutland Centre, are consultants and advisers in Employment Law, employment relations, human resource management, employment agreements plus advocacy in mediation and Employment Relations Authority hearings.