Employment law for employers
New Zealand has very strong employment law legislation. This is unique to our country, and many international organisations and companies struggle with it. Many feel that the current legislation favours the employee, and that business owners are on their own, left to wrestle with a complicated workplace relations system.
Our aim is for every workplace in New Zealand to be safe and fair. Our vision is to help every business access quality advice on workplace relations. Because we work for employers and employees, we have the advantage of understanding both perspectives.
The first piece of advice we give to all employers is: once you realise you have a problem with an employee, you need to get advice quickly on how best to handle the situation. Don’t try to handle the situation yourself – be aware the employee is likely getting their own legal advice behind the scenes.
We can help by giving you the right advice, at the right time, and at the right price. As well as dealing with complexity of legislation, Zealand Employment can help deal with related issues that may be due to human behaviour.
Covid-19 employment issues
With Covid-19 impacting the working environment in different ways, employers and business owners have been presented with some unique challenges when it comes to properly managing employees.
We can also help you better understand any recent changes to legislation that impacts employee management and employment relations.First, we review your processes and documents. We find potential issues and solutions. Then we help you lay the foundations for a fair and safe workplace. It’s about getting things right from the start.
The best way to deal with personal grievances is to avoid them in the first place, and we can advise you on how to improve workplace practices. But if these problems arise, we are here to provide you tailored advice, help you sort out the issue, and take the required actions to ensure you meet all legal requirements.
We recommend you get in touch with us when you are planning to take any action against an employee, to ensure you are acting within the employee’s rights and prevent them raising grievances against you.
How we can help with personal grievances
We can represent you when an employee raises a personal grievance against your company. Having a proper representation is crucial to ensure that employees and their representatives aren’t just trying to blackmail you. We can advise on whether there is valid ground for a grievance and help you to defend any grievances. Personal grievances can be very stressful, we can ease the stress for your company ensuring that your rights as an employer are met.
Redundancy is when you no longer need a certain position in your business, and as a result one or more employees will have to stop working for you.
The decision to make a position redundant should have nothing to do with the particular employee or the employee’s performance – it should not be a reflection on that person’s ability to do the job or any other personal reasons. Redundancy has to be genuine and fair, and follow the required process.
You should never use redundancy as a way to remove unwanted employees from your business, and if someone can prove you did this it can be a very expensive mistake.
You can also find yourself in trouble if your reasons for the restructure or redundancy are genuine, but you have not involved the affected staff member in the process and have merely informed them that they are losing their job.
New Zealand employment laws stipulate that staff must be consulted on every aspect of a redundancy or restructure before the final decision to either make someone redundant or to disestablish their role.
How we can help with redundancy
If you engage Zealand Employment before beginning your restructure, we can advise you of the proper process to follow and help consult with your employees on their potential redundancy.
We can also help identify any potential problems with the positions you plan to make redundant, and help you avoid mistakes.
Employee illness or incapacity
The illness of an employee can be frustrating, especially when your business is facing staff shortages.
In some circumstances it can be justifiable for an employer to dismiss an employee for illness. This is generally if the illness is likely to affect the employee’s ability to perform their work in the long term. However, you should advise the employee that you are concerned with the length of the absence, and follow the proper and fair process.
It is important to understand that this is a difficult area, and you should get professional advice to avoid a personal grievance later. We recommend that employers seek professional advice before deciding on or starting a process for dismissal for medical incapacity.
How we can help with employee illness and incapacity
If you are worried that your business could be seriously affected by an employee’s illness, or that they will not be able to perform their job properly in the long term, you can contact Zealand Employment for help following the due process in this difficult situation.
We’ll advise you of the steps you need to take to be fair to your employee and avoid legal issues and disputes.
It is crucial to have well written employment agreements. From experience, we know that many employment agreements are out of date, refer to old legislation and have no valid 90-day trial period clauses in them.
These issues don’t usually come to light until there is a problem and it is too late to fix the issue in a consensual way. Contact us today to get your employment agreements in order before they become a problem.
How we can help with employment agreements
We can draft a compliant set of employment agreements for waged and salaried employees, and give you the email template and instructions so that the 90-day trial period is set up correctly for you to use over and over again for as many employees as you like.
90-day trial period
A 90-day trial period limits an employee’s rights, so it is very important that as an employer you act in good faith, and can demonstrate that you do so.
When the 90-day period is correctly used, an employer may dismiss an employee within the period without fear of a claim of unjustified dismissal. There are very strict requirements to follow on how to dismiss under the 90-day trial, so it is always best to seek advice.
How we can help with 90-day trial periods
Talk to us before taking on a new employee to get the correct systems and communications in place for your 90-day trial period. If you would like to dismiss an employee during their trial period, we can help make sure you follow the due process and avoid any legal issues.
Abandonment of employment
When an employee stops turning up to work or abandons employment, you as an employer are obliged to fairly question the circumstances and give the employee an opportunity to explain why they have abandoned their employment.
In good faith, you should try to contact the employee before the employee can effectively abandon their employment. We suggest calling the employee to advise them that if they do not show up to work, you will deem that they have abandoned their employment. If the employee then turns up, you can take disciplinary action.
How we can help with abandonment of employment
Zealand Employment can help you communicate with your employee to give them a fair shot at explaining their absence. We can also help you plan disciplinary action or give warnings, and in a worst-case scenario we can help you follow the proper legal process to dismiss the employee who has abandoned employment.
Poorly performing employees
This can be very frustrating issue. If you are dealing with a poorly performing employee, it is very important to approach the situation carefully. To justify dismissal, you have to demonstrate that the employee lacks the skills, capacity or personality to perform well in the job you employed them for.
You need to follow procedure and be fair to your employee, and you need to show that you acted fairly and reasonably and took proper disciplinary action. We recommend you give us a call and discuss your options.
How we can help with poorly performing employees
Zealand Employment can advise you of the proper process to follow when dealing with a poorly performing employee. We can advise you of the several options available to you, which include upskilling, mediation, altering job description or dismissing the employee.
Misconduct and serious misconduct
A misconduct which is not serious doesn’t have to undermine or destroy the relationship of trust and confidence between you and your employee. Misconduct does not justify a dismissing the employee unless they repeat the behaviour.
If you conduct a fair investigation and disciplinary process, and then decide that your employee has committed serious misconduct, you may choose to dismiss the employee.
Your response to misconduct must be fair and reasonable. For example, it would be unreasonable to give an employee a final warning after a one-off misconduct.
How we can help with misconduct and serious misconduct
If you intend to warn or dismiss a staff member, we recommend you get in touch with Zealand Immigration so we can guide you in the best way forward. We’ll advise you what constitutes serious misconduct, and tell you what you can and can’t do in this situation. If you wish to dismiss your employee, we’ll help you follow the correct process so you aren’t exposed to legal action.