Further penalities for breaches of Minimum Employment Standards

Copeland Ashcroft recently wrote about the changes to legislation in 2016 which have seen an increase in penalties sought by the Labour Inspectorate for breaches of minimum employment standards. 

The Minister of Immigration recently announced increased punitive consequences for employers recruiting migrant workers who breach these minimum standards.

Proposed contracting out of personal grievance provisions

Parliament is considering the Employment Relations (Allowing Higher Earners to Contract out of Personal Grievance Provisions) Amendment Bill (Bill), which proposes that employees who earn over $150,000 gross may contract out of the personal grievance provisions provided by the Employment Relations Act 2000.

A personal grievance is a legal claim an employee can bring against their employer if they believe they have been dealt with unfairly or unjustifiably.  The Bill provides that any contracting out provision would be void unless:

Fixed term and casual employment agreements (and when to use them)

All employers are required to provide employees with an individual employment agreement (IEA), but working out when to use a casual IEA and when to use a fixed term IEA may not be as straight forward as it sounds.

Fixed Term IEA?
A fixed term IEA can be used where an employer has a genuine reason, based on reasonable grounds, to employ on a fixed term basis, for example, covering for maternity leave or to complete a specific project. 

Fixed term IEAs must specify:

What happens when an employee breaches a settlement agreement?

Employment relationship problems are commonly resolved by confidential settlement negotiations, resulting in a full and final settlement being agreed between the parties.  The terms of the settlement can be captured in a Record of Settlement, signed off by a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment mediator, pursuant to s149 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA). 

Court guidance on new Hours of Work law coming

The first Employment Relations Authority (Authority) determination on the new hours of work legislation, introduced in April 2016, has been released and has escalated the matter to the Employment Court for decision.  

Domestic Violence - Victim's Protection Bill

It’s no secret that domestic violence in New Zealand is a major issue in New Zealand.  It affects one in three women, the Police attend a family violence incident every seven minutes and it costs New Zealand up to $8 billion a year.

Reminder! All employment agreements have to be updated by 1 April 2017

All employers have until 1 April 2017 to ensure all their existing employment agreements are amended to reflect the changes to the new law. 

We have written a number of articles outlining the employment legislative changes.  To access this information click on  the following links:

Employee or Volunteer?

A recent decision by the Employment Court considered a claim by a volunteer worker that they were actually an employee.  The Employment Court provided useful comment on the differences between volunteers and employees and the circumstances where a volunteer may be deemed to be an employee.

Unlawful premiums on employment: Case Summary

A recent Employment Court decision has determined that a recruitment agency breached the Wages Protection Act 1983 (WPA) by charging premiums for job offers.

Case summary
Section 12A of the WPA prohibits premiums being charged for employment. The section states that where an employer receives any money by way of a premium, such as a deduction from wages, then the employee may recover that amount from the employer.

Union delegate to be treated like other employees: Case Summary

A recent decision by the Employment Court determined that a company unlawfully terminated one of their employees due to his role as a union delegate with the union.   The company was ordered to pay $19,721.29 to the individual, plus interest.