The traditional working week of Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm is slowly becoming a thing of the past as more and more businesses embrace flexible working arrangements.
There are huge benefits to be gained from providing a work environment that allows employees to take ownership of when and how they are most productive. It is an acknowledgement that work is only one aspect of people’s lives and often there’s a need to accommodate family commitments, hobbies or study too.
The key to making sure flexible working arrangements work effectively is regular communication and agreeing quantifiable outcomes. The focus becomes on output, rather than input.
A couple of years ago, an availability provision came into law, but there was a grace period to allow employers to comply and up until recently, we’ve really only seen action taken against employers that have zero hour contracts. This was often in the food service sector where they don’t guarantee any hours at all, but want employees to be ready and waiting just incase they need to call them in. This is now illegal.
With the changes to the 90 day trial period coming into effect on 6th May, conversations have resurfaced about the effectiveness of using probationary periods as an alternative.
Certainly, there is merit in using them but it should be done with caution.
The intent of a probationary period is to assess an employee’s skill set for a particular position – this means that (unlike the 90 day trial period), it can be used for an ex-employee coming back into the organisation or for a current employee moving into a new role.
However, there are some things to keep in mind regarding a probationary period:
Amongst HR professionals, there is often discussion about how easily employees can get medical certificates when they are requested (usually after 3 days of absence).
However, if you have an employee who is delaying producing the medical certificate when requested (or totally unable to provide one), you have two courses of action to take.
On 1st April the new Domestic Violence – Victim’s Protection Bill comes into effect. This piece of legislation entitles employees affected by domestic violence to up to 10 days of paid domestic violence leave per year, in order to deal with the effects of domestic violence.
Workplace stress is a tricky thing to manage, and unfortunately it seems to be on the rise for many businesses.
There is no legal entitlement for stress leave from work and NZ employment law doesn’t provide an exact definition of stress leave, so it is a bit of a grey area which compounds the challenge of dealing with it.
The lack of legislation means that if an employee feels they need time-off to recover from work-related stress, the leave options are largely up for negotiation between employer and employee, unless the stress is causing illness, in which case sick leave could be taken.
We really need to look at the Health & Safety At Work Act 2015 for guidance on dealing with workplace stress, as this piece of legislation classifies it as a hazard, and therefore provides the framework to guide us. This means employers have an obligation to monitor, identify and manage workplace stress just as with other hazards.
We all know HR can be a real minefield if you’re not sure of the correct process to follow when you suspect an employee is up to no good.
It isn’t clearly documented in legislation, but case law has given us a great framework that should be applied whenever a disciplinary matter rears its head.
Below we have outlined the main steps of a disciplinary process:
The Employment Court recently overturned a 2016 ERA decision, forcing Smiths City to recompensate hundreds of staff for unpaid work meetings to the tune of $1.5M.
The retail chain expected staff to turn up at 8.45am – 15 minutes prior to the official start of their 9:00am shift – for daily sales meetings. Smiths City argued the meetings were unpaid because they varied from store to store, and attendance was not compulsory, but Judge Inglis viewed it differently. She said the meetings were conducted according to a standardised template provided by the company, and although the meetings had an informal tone, the workers were expected to attend and therefore it constituted a work activity and they should be remunerated for them.
The ruling went on to focus on the fact that many of those affected employees were minimum wage earners, who would therefore drop below the minimum wage threshold once the additional time had been taken into account.
It’s a slightly confusing concept to get your head around, but is easier to understand with an example.