News

Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) Flow Charts Expand article
Contract article

The Ministry of Health has produced two useful flow charts showing how to use RATs in the workplace.

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Preparing for Omicron – Obligation to Pay Employees Expand article
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With the onset of Omicron imminent, there is a lot of mis-information about employer obligations to pay employees who either have COVID-19 or who are a close contact of a person with COVID-19. There is evidence of some employees attempting to rort the system by seeking paid special leave from their employer on the basis they have been in contact with a person who is a close contact of a person with COVID-19.

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The Changing Nature of Work Expand article
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A recent Employment Court judgment continues a developing trend of changes as to what constitutes work; and the time during which employees are entitled to be paid (2021-NZEmpC-217-Humphreys v Humphreys and Ministry of Health).

Mr Humphreys looks after his severely disabled daughter and has done so for many years.  Mr Humphreys sought to clarify his employment status – whether he can be employed by his severely disabled daughter (as contended by the Ministry of Health) or whether the Ministry is his employer; and if so, what obligations flow from any such employment relationship.

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2021/22 Christmas/New Year Holidays – The Basics Expand article
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What are the Public Holidays?

The answer to that question will vary, depending on the individual employee’s work pattern.

This year Christmas Day and New Years’ Day fall on a Saturday and Boxing Day and 2 January fall on a Sunday, so those Public Holidays will transfer for most, but not all, employees.

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Traffic Light Orders Released Expand article
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Today 3 December, the COVID-19 Protection Framework comes into effect. The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework) Order 2021 establishes the Framework and replaces the Alert Level system.

Most of the existing rules about use of face coverings, social distancing, use of tracer App and so on continue to apply. 

In terms of crossing a border, from 15 December travellers must produce their Vaccine Pass or provide proof of a negative COVID test taken no more than 72 hours prior to travel.

There are new requirements that relate to the use of CVCs .

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Clarity re Unvaccinated Employees Expand article
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The COVID-19 Response (Vaccinations) Legislation Act 2021 has been passed.  Royal Assent occurred today and so the Act is effective from 26 November. This is a powerful piece of legislation, passed under urgency, which provides absolute clarity around employers’ rights and obligations in respect of unvaccinated employees.

In recent weeks there has been a seismic shift in peoples’ expectations around COVID-19 in general; and vaccination status in particular.  Only a minority of employers are not going down the vaccine mandate path, which is a big turnaround from only a month ago.

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Rapid Antigen Testing Expand article
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Employers are under pressure to find ways to prevent COVID from impacting their businesses. 

Requiring that key roles only be performed by vaccinated employees, based on risk assessments, is one line of defence. 

In many countries, Rapid Antigen Testing (sometimes called Point of Care testing) is being widely used in workplaces to determine whether employees have COVID.  The tests are simple and quick to administer and relatively inexpensive, which provides employers with another line of defence in the workplace.

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Vaccination Policy – Time to Act Expand article
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Since our last article on this subject in March, the vaccination debate has rapidly gained momentum. Support for further Level 4 lockdowns is very low and the Government says that more than 90% of the eligible population need to be vaccinated to manage future outbreaks without lockdowns.  Within the next few weeks, every person 12 years and over should have had the opportunity to be vaccinated.  The next question is what will your policy be?

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Employsure Complaints Upheld Expand article
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In Australia a full Federal Court has found private employment advisor Employsure, via a targeted Google Ads campaign, falsely represented that it was, or was affiliated with, a government agency.

The Employsure advertisements on Google represented themselves until late in 2018 as "Fair Work Ombudsman Help - free 24/7 employer advice" and "Fair Work Commission Advice - free employer advice" and referred potential customers to domains such as fairworkhelp.com.au, employersupport.com.au and employerline.com.au.

The ACCC further accused Employsure of promising free IR advice but using "high pressure sales tactics" to lure businesses onto long-term service contracts worth thousands of dollars a year. 

The same tactics appear to be employed by Employsure in NZ with their current domain of employerline.co.nz/free-employer/advice. Earlier this year Employsure also entered into an enforceable undertaking with MBIE regarding incorrect payment of various types of leave and incorrect recording of wages and leave.

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Wage Subsidy Requirements Tightened Expand article
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Applications for the Wage Subsidy can now be made through Work and Income.  This time the requirements are more onerous. 

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Managing staff who do not vaccinate Expand article
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Employers are facing situations where some employees may refuse a COVID vaccination, or may be unable to be vaccinated due to pre-existing conditions.  Fortunately, the experience so far is that very few people are in this category, probably due to the fact that those being offered vaccinations initially are those most exposed to risk in front line border operations, MIQ or the health system.  Recent surveys indicate that up to 75% of people will, or probably will, have a COVID vaccination when it’s offered, but that still leaves a significant number of people who may not.

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Easter and Anzac Public Holidays 2021 Expand article
Contract article

To decide an employee’s entitlement to public holidays you first need to know whether a particular day of the week would otherwise be a working day for the employee. This requires an individual assessment for each employee.  For employees with a fixed work pattern that is easy to determine. For employees who work flexibly this is more complicated. 

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