Copeland Ashcroft Law appoints new Associate

Copeland Ashcroft Law is very pleased to announce that it has appointed Charlie Arms-Harris as an Associate working out of its Queenstown office.  Having worked as a senior solicitor for the firm since 2011, Charlie is well known and respected in the Otago and Southland regions as an employment, immigration and health and safety lawyer with a proven track record.

Pay Equity - a complex equation

The Employment Court and then the Court of Appeal recently considered the issue of pay equity following a claim under the Equal Pay Act 1972 (Act) by aged care workers, where the workforce is predominantly made up of women. 

In essence, pay equity means gender doesn't affect what people are paid and women receive the same pay as men for doing the same work, and also for doing work that is different, but of equal value. The value of work is assessed in terms of skills, knowledge, responsibility, effort and working conditions.

Vulnerable Children's Act

The Vulnerable Children’s Act 2014 (Act) was introduced to prevent people with relevant serious convictions from working alone with children.  The Act prescribes new requirements for all government funded employers to conduct specified background checking called ‘safety checks’ on all new and existing employees and contractors who have regular and unsupervised contact with children, “children’s workers”.  Children’s workers are defined as “core” or “non-core” workers, depending on the type of contact they have with children.

Safety checks involve:

Suspension: Do's and Don'ts

It’s a common misconception that an employer can simply not require an employee to attend work where a disciplinary investigation is underway.  However, this amounts to suspension unless it is agreed with the employee, and unlawful suspensions are risky in terms of potential personal grievances.  Employers therefore need to tread carefully when sending an employee away from the workplace.

What is suspension?
A suspension from work is where an employee remains employed but is directed to temporarily stay away from the workplace.

Restraint of Trade

Throughout the course of an employment relationship, an employee, particularly those at a senior level, will have access to commercially sensitive information about the business they work for including client lists, prices, marketing, trade secrets and intellectual property.  Understandably, where an employee then leaves the business the employer often wants to protect this information to maintain their client relationships and the ongoing viability of their business.

Worker participation in health and safety - what does this mean for your business?

A raft of new regulations to support the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (Act) were released recently, covering general risk and workplace management, worker engagement, participation and representation, major hazards, asbestos, as well as infringement fees and more specific topics like mining, quarrying and adventure activities.

Extending Parental Leave

As you may be aware, on 1 April 2016, the Employment Standards Bill came into force making changes to parental leave provisions by extending paid parental leave from 16 to 18 weeks.

Paid parental leave may now be extended to 26 weeks, with the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months' paid leave) Amendment Bill passing its second reading in Parliament on 25 May 2016.

Recent Employment Law changes - FAQs on hours of work, shift cancellation, secondary employment and deductions

Changes to various pieces of employment legislation came into effect on 1 April 2016.  We wrote about the changes here;

Impact of the Harmful Digital Communications Act (HDCA) in Workplace Communications

The Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015 (HDCA) comes into effect in 2017, and is intended to address “cyber-bullying”.  This may impact workplaces as employers who control social media or websites which are used for harmful digital communications will have obligations to address these.

Workplace Discrimination

Discrimination claims and complaints are becoming more popular with employees, and employers need to understand their obligations in this area and take action where an issue of discrimination arises. 

Employees can choose to bring a discrimination claim in either the Human Rights Review Tribunal (HRRT) (within one year) or the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) (within 90 days).  Recent remedies awarded by the HRRT at a significantly higher level than the ERA suggest this avenue is likely to be used increasingly in future.