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Zero Hour Contracts

The concept of ‘zero hour contracts’ (an arrangement where an employer does not commit to a minimum number of hours but an employee is required to be available for work) attracted criticism last year. Parliament has responded with the following amendments to our employment laws:

Employers will be required to ensure that an employee's agreed hours of work are included in the employment agreement.


  • Employers will be prohibited from requiring an employee to be available for work over and above their contracted hours unless the employment agreement provides compensation for that availability requirement.

  • A provision requiring an employee to be available for work will only be enforceable if there are genuine and reasonable grounds for that requirement and ‘reasonable’ compensation is paid for that availability.

  • If there is no availability provision in an employee's employment agreement providing for reasonable compensation, an employee will be able to refuse to perform additional work.

 

Source - Law Link

City of Sails falls behind in salary race

The results of a recent study have been surprising employers across New Zealand as data shows Auckland is no longer the place to be for pumped-up pay packets.

Job search company Seek revealed that Wellington had the highest advertised salaries last year – sitting at a considerable $80,438 despite a 0.2 per cent drop from 2014.

In contrast, the average advertised salary in City of Sails stood at $75,856 – placing Auckland in second position ahead of Taranaki where the average advertised salary fell four per cent to $72,475.

"Unlike Auckland, Wellington doesn't have much of a manufacturing sector which has lower wages,” explained Andrew Whiteford, managing director at Wellington-based economic research firm Infometrics.

“The average salary [for Wellington] reflects a more highly skilled workforce,” he told the New Zealand Herald. “Auckland is more typical of the whole of New Zealand," he added.

Whiteford also told the news outlet that the slight drop since 2014 was nothing to be worried about.

"The Government has a big impact and when they cut back it affects a lot of people but that has worked through the system and the Government is growing again and spending,” he said.

On the other end of the spectrum, Malborough was identified as the area with the lowest advertised salaries – standing at just $63,601.

Despite the last-place position, there was some good news for the region as it saw a 7.6 per cent jump since 2014.

Source - HRM New Zealand
 

Christmas checklist for holiday period

Closedown checklist

A ‘closedown’ happens when a business customarily shuts down all or part of its operation for a specified period, for example over Christmas and New Year, or at the end of a regular season. Since these are customary closedowns they are usually – and advisably – be referred to in the company’s code of conduct manual or as a clause in their Employment Agreements.

Such planned closedowns may only take place once a year and in these instances the employer may require employees to stay away from work during the period of the closedown, even where this needs to be taken as unpaid leave if they do not have enough accrued or entitled holidays to be able to cover the whole closedown period. Employees must be given at least 14 days’ advanced notice of the closedown.

If you wish to consider closing your business (for example on the Fridays between the public holidays and the weekend) but your business does not customarily have a closedown and therefore you do not have any Policy or relevant clause in your Employment Agreements, you can still do so. In these cases however you will first need to consult with your staff about your proposal and then give them at least 14 days’ notice of your decision to go ahead and close for those days. The earlier this is done the better it is for individuals to plan ahead, so if you already think that this may be a good idea for your business then it may be best to go ahead and have the discussion.

Three options for employees who do not have enough annual leave entitlement for the closedown:

Option 1: Allow them to take leave in advance, which is then deducted as it accrues over the following months. The risk associated with allowing them to take leave in advance is that they may terminate their employment with you before they have accrued enough leave to ‘pay it back’.   It is important that you have in writing that you may deduct money from the employee’s final pay, if the employee has not accrued the leave before leaving the organisation.  A clause covering deductions for leave taken in advance of entitlement is covered in the standard HRtoolkit employment agreements.

 Option 2: Alternatively they may agree to take unpaid leave for all or some of the closedown days

 Option 3: For employees with less than one year service – you can choose to pay them 8% of the employee’s gross earnings since the commencement of their employment up to the start of the closedown, less any annual leave taken in advance. The balance of the period of the closedown would then be taken as unpaid leave. In this case, the date of the start of the closedown (or another more convenient date close to this) then becomes the employee’s new annual leave anniversary date, so that by next years’ closedown they would have a full 4 weeks’ entitled leave (less any leave taken in advance during the year).

 Staff cover and public holiday payments

There are four public holidays over the Christmas/New Year period – Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and the second of January. Payment for public holidays is at relevant daily pay (RDP) or average daily pay (ADP).   Relevant daily pay is what the employee would have earned if they had worked the day. Where this isn’t possible or practicable to calculate, employers can use the average daily pay (ADP) calculation which is an averaging calculation over the previous 52 weeks using the number of days worked or on leave (which is where it differs from annual leave calculations).

If an employee works a public holiday they are entitled to be paid at time and a half of their RDP or ADP for the hours they work, plus their normal rate for any additional hours they would normally work but didn’t because it was a holiday. For example, if a store would usually be open from 9am to 9pm on a Wednesday and the employee would normally work a 12-hour day but only works 10 – 4 on Christmas Day, they are entitled to payment for six hours (time worked) at time and a half, and six hours (normal hours not worked) at RDP or ADP.

Here is a quick summary of entitlements below:

Worked the public holiday

  • Paid time and a half of RDP or ADP for time worked. Balance of normal hours at normal rate.
  • Receive an alternative holiday.

Don’t work the public holiday

  • Paid normal hours at RDP or ADP. No alternative holiday.

 Not an otherwise working day

Worked the public holiday

  • Paid time and a half of RDP or ADP for time worked. Balance of normal hours at normal rate.
  • No alternative holiday.

Don’t work the public holiday

  • No entitlement.

Where is the new Health & Safety law at?

The Health and Safety Reform Bill has been passed by Parliament. It will come into effect on 4 April 2016.  

What happens next?

The new law will be called the Health and Safety at Work Act. The Act itself will be published on the New Zealand Legislation website soon.

A series of regulations are being developed to support the new Act. These include:

  • General risk and workplace management
  • Major Hazard Facilities
  • Asbestos
  • Engagement, worker participation and representation (available shortly for public consultation)

Once the regulations are finalised, WorkSafe www.business.govt.nz/worksafe will issue formal guidance to support the Act and regulations. This formal guidance will start to become available in 2016. In the meantime WorkSafe will develop general information on the new legislation to help people prepare.

Until the new Act comes into effect in April 2016, the current Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 remains in force.

Things you can do now.

The new law comes into effect on 4 April 2016. Between now and then WorkSafe will provide supporting information to help you get ready. In the meantime here are five things you can do now:

  • Familiarise yourself with the key concepts of the legislation
  • Review your health and safety practices
  • Identify health and safety risks in your business and take steps to prevent these from causing harm
  • Lead by example
  • Make health and safety part of your workplace culture
  • See our post below

 

Health and Safety

  ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT YOUR COMPANY PREPARATIONS IN LIEU OF THE PENDING HEALTH AND SAFETY CHANGES?

 

ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT YOUR COMPANY PREPARATIONS IN LIEU OF THE PENDING HEALTH AND SAFETY CHANGES?

Interim WorkSafe & Compliance Manager Objectives

To ensure that the Employer is compliant with the current Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSEA) regime;

To ensure that the Employer and any associated Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) anticipates the Health and Safety Reform Act 2014 (HSRA) due to come into effect in 2016 - prior to its effective commencement date and puts in place appropriate transitional arrangements;

To ensure that the Employer and any associated PCBU (is complaint with the HSRA 2014 on its commencement date and in perpetuity into the future as the law evolves and develops by way of common law and any legislative amendments;

By achieving compliance with legislation (current and proposed) the Employer, its Directors, Officers and Workers (and any associated PCBU) the entity provides the highest level of protection to their workers and other persons against harm to their health, safety and welfare from hazards and risks as is reasonably practicable.