skip to Main Content
03 545 0877  

Vaccination Mandate Overturned: Should Employers be Concerned?

In short - mostly there is no need to worry despite a High Court decision that ruled the Covid-19 vaccination…

Isolation: Is it sick leave? (Q & A)

These are all real-life examples of questions we have been asked (some details changed to prevent identification). What would you do?

Replacing Staff After a Redundancy

After deciding a position is not needed in your organisation and going through the pain of the subsequent redundancy, what…

Mandates, Masks and Scanning: What can Employers Insist on?

Let’s start with yesterday’s (Wednesday 23 March) changes. Vaccine mandates will only be required for those working in health, aged…

Curly Omicron Scenarios Q & A

These are all real-life examples of questions we have been asked (some details changed to prevent identification). What would you do?

Wellbeing Resources & Other Support  

Here are a number of sites you may find useful to stay abreast of changes, access financial and workplace supports…

Omicron Rules & Regulations – Key Questions Answered

Mandated Boosters On 23 January, the snappily named “COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Amendment Order 2022” came into force.  This…

Giving Notice to Unvaccinated Employees Q & A

There have been dozens of questions about the intricacies of terminating the employment of an unvaccinated worker. Here are some answers to commonly (and not so commonly) asked questions.

Decisions About the Unvaccinated

For organisations where clear, unambiguous government vaccine mandates are in place (e.g. border workers, health sector, teachers), the decisions required…

Managing Wellbeing in the Workplace

It’s not exaggerating to state that there is a hell of a lot going on in the world at the moment. As we all now navigate the “traffic light” system, a further period of adjustment and change, it would be understandable if people feel ‘over it’. 

Mandated Vaccinations: What to do?

Even with the mandating of the COVID vaccination for many organisations, employers still need to follow a process before deciding to terminate employment. An employer’s good faith obligations remain.

Repayment of $27k Ordered

After 11 months as a Truck Driver for LongChill Ltd in the Manawatū, Mr Hardaker resigned from his job. There were no issues and no personal grievances raised, and ordinarily that would be the end of the story.

No jab, no job – Dismissal Justified

GF v New Zealand Customs Service is the first Employment Relations Authority decision relating to an employee’s termination because they refused to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Protecting our Business and Team

As we come to accept COVID-19 is a reality in our communities and hard lock downs will no longer be the government response, businesses will need to consider what steps they will take to meet their health and safety obligations and protect their businesses.

What Kind of Leave Q&A

These are all real-life examples of questions we have been asked (some details changed to prevent identification). What would you do?

Dismissal Justified – $8K Compensation Anyway

Despite the Employment Relations Authority determining a company Managing Director was justifiably dismissed, the former employee was awarded $8,000 because of the poor process and how he was suspended.

Returning to Work: Practical Steps

Here are some initial practical steps employers can take at each COVID-19 Alert Level change.

COVID-19 Policy Pack – Now Available

This pack of information including policies and risk assessment tools will help you with making a plan and communications and expectations for your staff during a crisis.

Court: No obligation to pay minimum wage to non-working employees during lockdown

The Employment Relations Authority found that Gate Gourmet had breached the Minimum Wage Act by paying staff less than the minimum wage during the Covid-19 lockdown.

My Employee Refuses to Take a COVID Test?

‘My employee is showing symptoms of COVID and I have asked them to go and have a test to protect the rest of my staff and myself. They are refusing! What can I do?”

COVID-19: Short-term Absence Payment (for testing)

The COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment is still available for businesses, including self-employed people, to help pay their workers who cannot work from home while they wait for a COVID-19 test result.

Back to the Basics – FAQ’s

Here are some answers to those fundamental questions of what you can and can’t do with staff during lockdown, and some reminders on all things COVID related.

The Source of the Vaccine Microchip Conspiracy Theory

Just for the record that is a definite no – there is no microchip or anything similar in any of…

Contractor Ruled as Employee

In the recent case of Barry v CI Builders Limited, despite the parties agreeing that Mr Barry was a contractor, the Employment Court found that the real nature of the relationship was in fact an employment relationship.

Parental Leave: Key Things to Remember

There have been many changes to employee leave entitlements over the last 12 months including parental leave provisions.  On 1st July 2020, Government funded paid parental leave increased..

Parent-Teacher Interview Leave

An amendment to the Holiday Act to include parent-teacher interview leave has had its first reading in Parliament.

Fair Pay Agreements – How will the Proposed System Work?

In early May the Government finally provided details regarding the proposed design of its Fair Pay Agreement system.  Here’s what we know so far…….

Amendment Bill to Increase Sick Leave Entitlements Passes

A bill introduced in December 2020 to increase the availability of employer-funded sick leave has passed its third and final reading and will come into effect on 24th July 2021.

Unjustifiably Dismissed Gold Mine Worker Awarded $18,980

Justin Banks had only been working for a month at a gold mine in Arahura, near the town of Hokitika,…

Selling Your Business?

If you are considering selling your business you are obliged to consult with your employees first. For many business owners this seems bizarre - after all it is theirs to sell and not the decision of your employees. 

‘Sorry, it was a joke’ not Accepted

Ivan Ilin, an employee at the Meadow Fresh milk processing facility in Christchurch, was dismissed for drawing a swastika on his company overalls, just a few days after the Christchurch mosque terror attacks. Four days after the attacks Ilin was asked by a colleague what he thought about the attacks.

Security Guards get job Protection

Effective from 1 July 2021 Security Guards will be deemed to be ‘vulnerable workers’ under the Employment Relations Act. As such they will have the automatic right to transfer their employment including their existing terms and conditions and leave entitlements, when the security contracts they are working on for one employer are taken over by a new employer.

Year Long Backlog for Personal Grievances

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA), the body that determines personal grievances, has a backlog of 659 cases on their books, with a further 280 yet to be assigned. The result is a wait of over a year for a case to be determined.

Test Your Knowledge: COVID-19 Travel and Vaccinations

Test your knowledge with these scenarios and questions around Trans-Tasman Travel and Vaccinations. Do you know the answers or have a process in place to manage these situations? If you would like other questions answered in our next Q & A please email them to [email protected]

Holidays Act Future Changes 2021

As a result of a Taskforce that reviewed the current Holidays Act and provide recommendations for improvement earlier this year, the Government indicated that the 22 recommendations should be adopted in full. We can now expect to see legislative changes in early 2022 to the Holidays Act in line with these recommendations…

Manager Awarded Over $76K Following Flawed Redundancy

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ruled a tech company’s dismissal of a senior sales and marketing manager was unjustified. The ERA’s decision found the company failed to follow proper processes by not offering the employee a position in the company when it became vacant during his notice period.

Paying Employees for Public Holidays

Employees get a paid day off on public holidays if it’s an otherwise working day for them. An otherwise working day is a day that an employee would have been working had the day not been a public holiday. Over the Easter and ANZAC holidays, some employment questions that regularly arise are...

COVID-19 Vaccinations: Employment Implications

As we enter the vaccination phase of this pandemic a new set of questions and considerations arise for employers. The Think Tank session we held last week raised some puzzling conundrums and generated excellent discussion. Thank you to everyone who contributed. A summary of the discussion points follow in this article.

New Public Holiday Recognising Matariki

One of Labour’s election promises was to introduce a new public holiday, from 2022, to recognise Matariki.

Urine-based Drug Testing Challenged

ERA agreed employees could choose an oral swab test instead. Many of our clients have had workplace drug and alcohol testing in place for a long time and the use of a testing regime is a practice generally understood and accepted by most employees. 

COVID-19: Short-term Absence Payment

The COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment is now available for businesses, including self-employed people, to help pay their workers who cannot work from home while they wait for a COVID-19 test result.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

Can Employers Insist on vaccinations? With COVID-19 vaccinations becoming available in New Zealand, initially to health and border workers and their families, we are starting to have the conversation with employers about whether or not they can require workers to have a vaccination.

Bullied Employee Wins Constructive Dismissal

Employee sought an exit strategy when raising the grievance, however the employer was found to have breached their duty of care.

No Obligation to Pay Minimum Wage to Non-Working Employees During Lockdown

An airline catering company, Gate Gourmet, was found to have breached the Minimum Wage Act by paying staff less than the minimum wage during the Covid-19 lockdown. The company appealed the ERA decision...

New Sick Leave Entitlement

The Government have started the process to increase employee sick leave from 5 days to 10 days per year with the introduction of a Bill to Parliament. The Bill will go through a full select committee process and is expected to be passed in mid-2021

Potential Christmas Problems Q & A 

Some staff issues can arise more frequently during the Christmas / New Year’s period, particularly poor behaviour, staff safety issues and additional unplanned absences. We have put together some Q & A's to assist you to manage these situations.

Christmas Closedowns and Employee Leave

As 4 public holidays over the Christmas/New Year’s period fall on Fridays and Saturdays this year, businesses may like to close over some or all of this period. This might mean that some or all employees could be required to take leave during this time. To understand the two types of closedowns and your employee obligations.

Paying Employees Statutory Days – Christmas and New Year

Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall on a Friday this year with Boxing Day and the Day after New Year’s falling on a Saturday. If you are unsure how your employees should be paid over these statutory holidays.

Privacy Act Changes

The Privacy Act has been updated and came into effect 1st December 2020.  A lot has changed since the last update in 1993, including the use of the internet as a business tool and to store data. To find out the key changes and what your business should now be taking into consideration.

Recruitment and Selection Mistakes

Are you guilty of any of the following? Here are the most common slip ups we see employers making.. ..Making hasty decisions because you are desperate! Using an interview as your only selection tool.. read more

Recruiting After Restructuring

A number of businesses are showing signs of recovery post COVID-19 lockdown, and have found themselves needing to expand their team and advertise for more staff, after initially making people redundant. So - what if you had to let an employee go recently due to the COVID downturn and now you need to refill that position – must you re-employ your ex-employee?

Did you Know?…

Reference checking, whether conducting them yourself or offering to be a referee for an ex employee, can sometimes be tricky to ensure it is without risk. To understand the guidelines around reference checks, read more...

What to say When?

When an employee leaves your business, for whatever reason, it is important to explain or communicate to the remaining staff in a professional way. Here are some examples...2 minute read

Overpaid Employee Ordered to Repay Employer

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has found that an employee of Noel Leeming Group had been overpaid while they were on ACC-funded leave and ordered the employee to repay the overpayment. The employee, Michael Saunders, had been employed since late 2017.  In December 2018 he suffered a non-work accident and was then off work until 21 March 2019.

What to say When?

‘Many of my employees have enjoyed working from home in recent months due to the Alert Level restrictions imposed on our working environment. Now some want to work from home permanently and I am struggling to justify why they can’t after 3 months of being able to do so. I also don’t want to create an influx of requests!’..What can I say in response to them?

Alert Level 2 – Covid Testing, Payments, Work attendance

My employee won’t come to work, my employee won’t test, when do I and when don’t I need to pay my employee? Paying employees who cannot attend work because they have been advised by the Ministry of Health to stay home while waiting for COVID test results.

Triangular Employment Relationships Explained

A triangular employment arrangement is a situation where the employer (the agency) arranges for the employee’s placement or assignment with a third party (the host organisation). It is ‘triangular’ because there are three parties to an employment arrangement, with each party having distinct relationships with one another. Changes to employment law in the past month mean a worker in these triangular situations can now claim a personal grievance against a host organisation.

Privacy Act – What’s Changing?

The privacy Act 2020 comes into effect 1 December 2020. The current privacy laws were last put in place in 1993. A lot has changed since, including the use of the internet as a business tool and to store data. Read more to see what the key changes will be.

Reducing Pay During Level 4 Lockdown: ERA Decisions

Two personal grievances raised in relation to reducing pay during Level 4 lockdown have been heard and decided on by the Employment Relations Authority. The wage subsidy declaration gave many employers the impression that as long as they had used their ‘best endeavours’ to pay their staff at 80% of their normal wages then there wasn’t an actual obligation to pay them anything more than the wage subsidy itself.

Redundancy During COVID-19 lockdown: The first grievance decision

The first case for a redundancy during COVID-19 lockdown has been decided by the Employment Relations Authority. It has cost the employer a pay out to two former employees a total of just over $58,000.

Traffic Stop-Go Controller Sought $80K but Ordered to pay Employer

Yoon Cheol Hong worked for Chevron Traffic Services Ltd as a Traffic Controller from September 2017 until his dismissal in…

Payroll Q & A

Test your payroll knowledge with these tricky questions relating to holiday pay for employees with changed working hours, redundancy pay and contractors on your payroll. If you would like other questions answered in our next Q & A please email them to [email protected]

When a Discretionary Payment isn’t Discretionary

A recent full sitting of the Employment Court (three judges), made a decision on a key holiday pay question: what ‘discretionary payments’ such as bonuses are included in holiday pay calculations. When calculating Holiday Pay the Holidays Act requires “productivity and incentive based payments” to be taken into account. There are however exceptions to this...

Employee or Contractor ? A new case.

Earlier this month the Employment Court decided a Courier Driver operating as an Independent Contractor was in fact an employee. This is not a new issue, and there is well established case law setting out the criteria used to determine whether a person is genuinely a contractor. Although this decision made headlines, it was not a surprising decision when considering the relevant facts.

Wage Subsidy Extension

The extension to the Wage Subsidy has far more clarity than the original, however there are still some areas of potential confusion. The Work and Income website remains the best source of information, and I have highlighted a few of the key considerations rather than repeat all they have said.

Personal Grievances from Temps Possible

Way back, seemingly a lifetime ago, the government introduced the Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Bill. On 27 June this Bill comes into law, and will impact organisations who use temps, secondees or third parties to engage labour.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

If your reaction to yesterday’s description of Alert Level 3 was an awful sinking feeling, this Newsfeed is for you. For some industries and businesses you may be planning for how you can return to work if there is a change to Level 3 next week and there will be different information coming for you.  

Planning for a Return

The government has not said what criteria will be used to determine if we come out of Alert Level 4, although a couple of the factors include the trend and number of new cases, and the source of new cases (community spread being the issue). We have also been told categorically that Alert Level 4 will not be lifted early. The government has however said they will tell us on Monday whether the Alert Level will change. Although not particularly helpful I can understand why. So we are going to have to prepare for all the different possibilities, and communicate this to our teams...

Paying Public Holidays

In short, there is no change to how you pay public holidays for Good Friday and Easter Monday. What may have changed is the rate you pay them at, and/or whether the day is now an otherwise working day for the employee. Here are the basics and the questions that may stem from that....

Key Government Announcements

• Wage subsidy for vulnerable employees in essential services • Payment for Easter Public Holidays • Changes to the Companies Act; Please remember the changes have not yet been made to the Act, and the government has advised they will be retrospective to Friday 3 April. The temporary changes include:...

Wage Subsidy not a Panacea

Yesterday afternoon Jacinda Ardern (who I think has been demonstrating incredible leadership qualities through this crisis), made a statement that riled me and in my view was irresponsible on a number of levels. It related to the publisher Bauer closing its business in NZ. Ardern appeared to make a dig at the company stating they were asked “if they could take up the wage subsidy. They refused.”

Important Things to Keep in Mind

• Minimum Wage Increase 1 April • Changes to hours and pay must be agreed in writing • Wage claims can be backdated 6 years • Distributing the subsidy • Salary thresholds for Skilled Migrant Resident Visas and Essential Skills Work Visas

Cashflow Forecasts and Making the Hard Decisions

I have found the most difficult factor in making any decisions for my business is the uncertainty of how long the close down will continue and when it is lifted, how long will the economic recovery take, and what will customer demand be both in terms of volume and services required.

Subsidy Requirement Changes

On Friday  afternoon the government announced some changes to the wage subsidy, and the declaration form the employer is required…

Important Criteria Clarification for Wage Subsidy

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has clarified this afternoon that if a business is claiming the COVID-19 wage subsidy, the workers…

Covid-19 Support Update

The Chapman ER team are available to support you as we continue to work from home. The Government is continually…

Paying Employees for Easter & Anzac Holiday

This year Anzac day will be Mondayised as it falls on a Saturday. Mondayisation only happens if the employee doesn’t…

Economic Rescue Package 

The Government has today announce a substantial economic rescue package in response to COVID -19. For businesses, there are certain…

Trends in Employment Law in 2019 and What’s New for 2020

During 2019, New Zealand employment law experienced many new reforms, which included changes to the 90 day trial period, rest…

Betcha Didn’t Know

It's not always about Employment Relations! On the lighter side, here are some fun facts that we bet you didn't…

Fraud Leads to Prison for Employee

From time to time we assist clients with situations where one of their employees is found to have misused or…

Probationary Periods

Do you have more than 20 employees? If your answer is yes, then you are not able to use a…

Christmas ‘What to Say When’

Q1. My employee sent a text to say they were sick on New Year’s Eve (31 December) and couldn’t come…

Legislation planned initiatives for 2020

The New Zealand Law Society notes that Parliament and government officials will expect a busy 2020, with a large number…

Work trials – Can you use them?

A Café worker was recently awarded $9000 for one day of ‘work’ when she was undertaking a work trial as…

Compensation For Employee Availability

An Employment Court decision has confirmed if employers want their employees to be available outside of their normal working hours,…

Back To Top