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restraint of trade – learnings from the Tova O’Brien case

26th February 2022

Tova O’Brien argued her new role as a radio show host captured a substantively different audience to her work as a political editor and therefore would not be ‘competition’ for the purposes of her restraint of trade.

Her old employer, Discovery, argued her new role appealed to a significant portion of their target market, namely the younger generation of consumers who appear to switch between breakfast radio and TV media based on their preference of hosts.

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Posted in legislation |

what are the tools of your trade?

6th October 2020

In many businesses it is common for employees to provide some or all their own tools – for example mechanics, plumbers, builders, hairdressers.

These tools, equipment, devices, or machinery are required to complete your trade, occupation, or profession.    Equally for some businesses the tools are a mobile phone and laptop.

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how to alter an employee’s hours of work if you need to

12th April 2020

No great business is static.

Great businesses have to continuously evolve in response to the changing external market, competitor landscape, internal pressures, and of course, the effect of global pandemics.  For many businesses, the fallout from COVID-19 will be significant and it could be 12-18 months before workflow returns to “normal”.  That is likely to mean that what worked before doesn’t work anymore, and you’re forced to revisit employees’ working conditions, and make changes.

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

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Posted in legislation |

probationary periods

24th April 2019

volunteer vs employeeWith 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:

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Posted in employment agreements, legislation, trial periods |

proof of sickness

24th March 2019

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.

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Posted in legislation, sick leave |

domestic violence leave

22nd March 2019

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.

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Posted in legislation |

using personal email for work biz

30th November 2018

Ivanka Trump hit the headlines last week for using her personal email for White House business.

There was a fear she’d been sending classified information over a private system and by doing so, potentially cause a threat to the US security system.

But it’s not actually illegal.  In the US, personal accounts are able to be used for government business, providing any official correspondence is forwarded to a work account within 20 days for preservation. The relevant Acts state that this step is to ensure official records are not beyond the reach of journalists, lawmakers and others who seek publicly available information.

This is an important practice for all of us in business too.

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Posted in email use |

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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Posted in legislation, workplace stress |

how to enforce an employee dress code

22nd August 2018

A British Airways worker made the news last week after his employment was terminated because he had a ‘man bun’.  He argued it was discrimination because females were allowed to wear their hair in that style, and yet because he was a male, he wasn’t.

While the jury is still out on who will win this one, it does raise a good point about company dress codes, and the right way to enforce them.

A company is absolutely entitled to have a dress code to reflect the type and status of the business, but it must be reasonable in the context of the company’s business – you can’t really prevent someone having a specific hair style for no justifiable reason.

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Posted in dress code |

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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Posted in legislation |

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