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A Pregnant pause

Written by Alison Maelzer & Sarah Holderness on July 30th, 2013.

In March 2013, The Observer reported that:
one in seven women surveyed had lost their job while on maternity leave; 40% said their jobs had changed by the time they returned, with half reporting a cut in hours or demotion.  More than a tenth had been replaced by the person who had covered their maternity leave.
Topics: Employment Law

Replacement Workers - Are the times (and the law) changing?

Written by Jim Roberts & Michael O'Brien on July 30th, 2013.

On 13 June the Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill was drawn from the ballot of private members’ bills, meaning that it will soon be introduced to Parliament and debated in the House.  This Bill targets section 97 of the Employment Relations Act 2000. 
Topics: Employment Law

The Employment Relations Act Gets a Makeover

Written by Jim Roberts & Michael O'Brien on July 30th, 2013.

In the March 2013 edition of Employment News, we mentioned that the Government was to introduce a new Bill to amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 in several areas.  That Bill has come to pass, and is currently being considered by Parliament.  Below we set out in brief the key aspects of the Bill.
Topics: Employment Law

Make time for tea - do your employees take their breaks?

Written by Jodi Sharman on July 11th, 2013.

Most employers are now cognisant that employees are entitled to rest breaks and meal breaks during the employee’s working hours. What may not be so clear are the employer’s obligations to inform an employee of their break entitlements and to ensure that those breaks are taken. A recent Authority case, Duffy v Kindercare Learning Centres Limited, highlighted this very point and is a timely reminder for all.
Topics: Employment Law

Common Sense prevails - Court of Appeal overturns Bull and Speedy decision

Written by Alison Maelzer on July 11th, 2013.

This litigation arose out of a tragic accident on Mangaohane Station in which an employee was killed. Health and Safety Inspector Margaret Utumapu sought to interview Mr Bull and Mr Speedy (the directors of the business – Mr Speedy was also the farm manager). Through their lawyer, Mr Bull and Mr Speedy requested a summary of the questions that Ms Utumapu was intending to ask, and made an Official Information Act request for all of the Department of Labour’s information with regard to the investigation. Ms Utumapu stated that she would not provide the specific questions (although she did indicate the general areas of proposed questioning) and would not provide the documents as it would jeopardise the investigation. Mr Bull and Mr Speedy applied for judicial review of the decision not to provide the information sought.

New workplace heath and safety system launched

Written by Alison Maelzer on July 11th, 2013.

On 1 July, a new workplace health and safety system was launched by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
New legislation, the Health and Safety (Pike River Implementation) Bill 2013, had its first reading on 27 June 2013. The Bill establishes the new, stand alone Crown agency - WorkSafe New Zealand - which will take over as the lead regulator of health and safety, most likely in December.

Health and Safety - getting its Act together at last?

Written by Alison Maelzer on July 4th, 2013.

The Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety has recommended sweeping changes to just about every aspect of health and safety in New Zealand. The recommendations are for a new agency (which the Minister of Labour has just announced will be known as WorkSafe New Zealand), new obligations and shiny new legislation to match. So what form can we expect the new legislation to take? And when can we expect to see it?

Shaking it up at Fonterra

Written by Alison Maelzer on July 4th, 2013.

Who knew that Fonterra employees were such dedicated followers of internet trends? The dairy giant has once again found itself embroiled in employment litigation over a social media craze. Back in 2011, it was the dismissal of a supervisor for taking photos of others planking. Now, t he latest issue to hit the media has been the dismissal (and subsequent interim reinstatement) of two employees fired by Fonterra after the company found two videos uploaded to YouTube.
Topics: Employment Law

A Lot of Ink Gets Used on Tattoos

Written by Jim Roberts & Michael O'Brien on July 4th, 2013.

Subject to any guidelines, agreement, or policies to the contrary, an employee is allowed to turn up to work wearing an ugly tie or with a horrific haircut. An employee’s appearance, is, within reason, up to the particular employee in question. So why the recent fuss about tattoos – particularly those with cultural significance?
Topics: Employment Law

Redundancy - Employer Judgement or Court Judgment?

Written by Jim Roberts on July 4th, 2013.

Four recent decisions of the Employment Court have found the employers’ reasons for redundancy wanting, and have consequentially held the dismissals to be unjustified.
Rittson-Thomas t/a Totara Hills Farm v Davidson (March 2013)
Topics: Employment Law

Must an employer offer redeployment to employees who would otherwise be redundant?

Written by Sarah Holderness on July 4th, 2013.

The answer is not so straightforward; there are contrasting views in two Court of Appeal cases on this point, and the Employment Court has plotted its own course in recent times.

The general position is that decisions of higher courts, such as the Court of Appeal, are both binding on lower courts (including the Employment Court and Employment Relations Authority), and are persuasive when the higher court is again considering the same matter.
Topics: Employment Law

Leading from the front on Health and Safety – what all directors need to know

Written by Alison Maelzer on June 11th, 2013.

When it comes to matters of governance, the buck stops with the directors of a company. In matters of health and safety, this concept has perhaps become a little forgotten. The government is committed to holding directors to account for their company’s performance in health and safety, and assisting them to understand and manage their responsibilities. One of the recommendations to come out of both the Royal Commission into the Pike River tragedy, and the Independent Taskforce on Health and Safety, was the need to ensure directors are taking overall responsibility for managing health and safety within their workplaces

Pre-Employment Assessments – Employed or not Employed: that is the question

Written by Jim Roberts on June 11th, 2013.

Many employers have traditionally carried out an ‘on the job trial’ as part of the recruitment process. We will term these ‘pre-employment assessments’, so that they are not confused with ’90 day trial periods’ under the Employment Relations Act 2000 (“the Act”). These pre-employment assessments often involve an invitation to “work a shift or two” (usually unpaid) after which the employee may or may not be offered employment.

So, are pre-employment assessments possible or has an employee already entered into employment? The risk that a pre-employment assessment may be considered employment will come as an unwelcome shock to employers using this practice. There have already been three Employment Relations Authority cases in 2013 on this point. We assess them below and give you our thoughts.
Topics: Employment Law

PPSA Pointer – Update Debtor's Name Change or Lose Priority

Written by Sarah Gibbs on March 11th, 2013.

For a secured party to retain the priority of their registration on the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR), they must keep their financing statement up to date with all the information that they are aware of, including a change of the debtor's name.

Changes at the Employment Court

Written by Jim Roberts & Michael O'Brien on March 8th, 2013.

Judge Travis, a long-serving Judge of the Employment Court in Auckland, retired at the end of 2012. 
Topics: Employment Law
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