Employment 101

Most of us take for granted the processes and procedures around when we employ people, initiating what is the beginning of an employment relationship – which is of course a legal relationship - between an employer and an employee. Under the Employment Relations and Holidays Acts, employers and employees each have obligations to each other, and often it’s all too easy to overlook some of the fundamentals.

With the start of a new year, it is timely for employers to check how they are doing.

1. After receiving applications for employment, do you acknowledge them all in a timely fashion, even to say “No”? The biggest complaint we hear from jobseekers is that they don’t hear from companies once they have sent their applications.

2. All employees must have a written employment agreement no matter what their type of work (yes, even casuals). Have all successful candidates received the appropriate employment agreements in advance of their starting with you?

3. If a trial period clause is included in an employment agreement, the agreement must be signed before the worker starts work, otherwise the trial period clause will be invalid.

4. Employee records must be kept for all workers and made available to employees, their Unions (if applicable) and the Ministry's Labour Inspectors if they ask for them. They can be kept in electronic or paper files and must be kept for six years. Records kept must include (among other things) contact details, type of employment, wage, time, holiday and leave records. A handy checklist of just what employers must record for all their employees is available at http://employment.govt.nz/er/pay/recordkeeping/

5. The Privacy Act establishes a set of 12 principles to protect a person’s personal privacy. Principle 10 requires that any agency that holds personal information should not keep that information for longer than is required for the purposes for which the information may lawfully be used. Therefore unsuccessful applicants’ CV’s should be destroyed within a reasonable time after the recruitment process has been completed.

6. Public Holidays - are you paying your employees correctly? Any person who works on a public holiday is entitled to be paid time and a half for the hours they work and, if the public holiday would otherwise have been a working day for the person, they will also be entitled to an additional paid day off.

The Holidays Act 2003 addresses the public holiday entitlements for employees in a number of work patterns where entitlements are unclear, including employees working shifts, employees on call, and whether a day would “otherwise be a working day”.

7. Health and Safety - the all-important health and safety compliance - is there an induction process in place for all workers? Ensure there is an orientation plan including site plan, site hazards and emergency plan as part of your workplace health and safety management. The new Health and Safety at Work Act takes effect 4 April, do be sure you know what your obligations are.

Sounds daunting? These are basic requirements for employers and should not be overlooked.

Paddy Battersby. www.battersbyhr.com, 09 838 6338, paddy@battersbyhr.com

29 January 2016
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