Staff parties are fun – but are they safe?

With the end of the year fast approaching, many businesses will be organising staff parties to celebrate their employees’ contributions. Christmas functions can be a great way to unwind and get to know one another.  But, when alcohol is involved, which it almost inevitably is, there is room for bad decisions, injuries, inappropriate behaviour, reputational damage, and disciplinary issues.

Court guidance on new hours of work law coming - UPDATE

The Employment Relations Authority (Authority) recently escalated the first determination on the new hours of work legislation to the Employment Court (Court) for decision and we have been eagerly awaiting the outcome in the hope it would give us all some guidance particularly in the area of compensation.  Unfortunately we will have to wait a little longer for direction as the Court instead determined there was no availability provision within the Applicant’s employment agreement and therefore compensation was not payable in this instance.

Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill Introduced

On 26 July 2017 the Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill (Bill) was introduced into Parliament by Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse.

If passed, the Bill will repeal and replace the Equal Pay Act 1972 as well as the Government Service Equal Pay Act 1960 and will also amend the Employment Relations Act 2000.

WorkSafe New Zealand v Wai Shing Limited

Injured worker recieves $336,300 following workplace accident

WorkSafe New Zealand v Wai Shing Limited

In the health and safety space, WorkSafe NZ v Wai Shing Limited is our first glance at a Court topping up the difference between ACC payments and what the worker could have earned were they not injured.  

Getting it right from the start - engaging workers on the right agreement

The Copeland Ashcroft Law Team recently presented a seminar around the country on “Getting it right from the start giving “need-to-know” tips on fundamental employment documentation and processes.

Key take-away points are summarised below:

WorkSafe’s charging documents under scrutiny

The High Court in WorkSafe New Zealand v Talley’s Group Limited has scrutinised WorkSafe’s approach to the detail contained in their charging documents.  The case sets out that WorkSafe must include details of all alleged failings in their charging documents. 

A Talley’s employee was stacking empty bulk bins using a forklift at a vegetable processing plant in Ashburton.  Bins on the forklift toppled off and struck another employee, causing severe injuries that have left her in a wheelchair.

Health and Safety: Infringement offences and fees

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (the Act) and its regulations set out a raft of infringement offences, with associated fees, which essentially provide for small instant fines for specific breaches of duty.  If WorkSafe believes on reasonable grounds that a person is committing or has committed an infringement offence it can issue an infringement notice setting out the time, place and nature of the offence and the amount of the infringement fee.

Unpacking enforceable undertakings

Since 2011, Labour Inspectors have been able to issue what is known as an “enforceable undertaking” to an employer in order to force them to rectify breaches in employment legislation.  This tool was introduced as an alternative option to litigation and was considered a proactive option to get employers to address issues under related employment legislation instead of seeking remedies for employees through the Courts. 

The use of this tool was recently extended to certain health and safety breaches under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Parental Leave Changes Effective 1 June 2017

Parental Leave Payment

Prior to June 2017, if an employee was entitled to 18 weeks’ parental leave payment, the latest this payment could start was the day that the child was born.  That meant if an employee was using up annual leave prior to baby arriving, and the baby came early, annual leave would stop and the parental leave payments would commence. 

Obligations if providing accommodation as part of the Employment

It has long been common for workers working in rural or isolated areas to be provided with accommodation during their employment, but we are also now seeing this type of arrangement increasingly being offered as a perk of the job in all types of occupations and locations.