Employment lawyer Maria Dew has been appointed to investigate allegations of bullying by the Retirement Commissioner, Diane Maxwell.

Maxwell was stood down last week by the State Services Commission while the investigation takes place.

Among the bullying allegations, Maxwell is alleged to have publicly shamed employees and tore up work in front of them.

Maxwell has denied the allegations.

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Dew, who is also leading the independent review into the culture of the New Zealand women's hockey team, will investigate and report on:

• Whether allegations that Maxwell bullied current or former staff of the Retirement Commissioner can be substantiated;

• Whether 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.

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes announced her appointment today, which is effective immediately.

"I am very pleased to appoint Ms Dew," Hughes said. "She is highly regarded, has a reputation for integrity and a thorough understanding of New Zealand employment law."

Since 2013, Dew has been the Deputy Chair of the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, and in 2017 was elected to the Council of the New Zealand Bar Association.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi confirmed he had directed the State Services Commission to open an investigation given the nature of the concerns.

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He had asked the Commissioner to take leave while the investigation took place.

"Given that this Government is very clear on the need for workplaces to be safe and appropriate, I have directed SSC to open an investigation.

"This will ensure any current or former staff members are able to come forward, and will allow the Commissioner an appropriate opportunity to respond to the allegations.

"I have asked the Retirement Commissioner to take leave while SSC undertakes this work, and MBIE and the SSC will support the Commission and its staff to ensure continuity. SSC will report to me on findings early next year."