Category: legislation

managing workplace stress

30th September 2018

Workplace stress is a tricky thing to manage, and unfortunately it seems to be on the rise for many businesses.workplace stress

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.

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steps of a disciplinary process

9th July 2018

volunteer vs employeeWe 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:

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paying employees for work-related activity

29th June 2018

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.

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volunteer vs employee

18th June 2018

What makes someone an employee?  One of our clients recently approached us for some advice on whether a family friend who’d offered to help on the farm should be treated as an employee, or whether they were in fact just a volunteer.
It can be pretty easy to blur the lines between volunteer and employee, particularly when personal relationships are involved.  This can be a fairly contentious topic, particularly if there is a difference of opinion about which status should apply.

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90 day trial periods

10th June 2018

Some recent ERA decisions have shown that the 90 day trial period does not mean you can throw caution to the wind and disregard all due process.  Some unjustified dismissal claims are still upheld, so its worth remembering these points:

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how to…. change your business operations in response to commercial pressures

27th May 2018

No great business is static.  Great businesses have to continuously evolve in response to the changing external market, competitor landscape, and internal pressures, and sometimes that means what worked before doesn’t work anymore.

Sometimes the only response to these commercial pressures, is to consider changing employee’s employment conditions.

So if this is the boat you’re in, how do you do it?

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controlling sick leave

5th May 2018

The cold snap has arrived, and unfortunately, with winter, comes sickness and many businesses are faced with escalating employee  absenteeism and requests for sick leave.   But there are tools and techniques you can use to help quantify, monitor and manage the problem of sick leave and other unplanned absences.

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types of employment agreements

30th April 2018

Recent cases brought to light by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) have again demonstrated the importance of having your staff on the right type of individual employment agreements (IEA), and the costly consequence of an incorrect classification.

There are three primary classifications for employees; Permanent, Fixed Term and Casual, and there are variances in some of the clauses within the applicable employment agreement.

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government paid parental leave

27th April 2018

Looks like I started having kids a year too early!  Government paid parental leave has been on the increase for the past few years, but is getting a major hike on 1st July when it goes from 18 to 22 weeks.

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proposed changes to 90 day trial period

18th April 2018

The Labour government has proposed changes to the 90 day trial period, by only allowing it to be used by companies that employ 19 or less people, but it hasn’t become law just yet.

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