Essential HR Update

Monday 29th March 2021

Wednesday sees the end of the financial year for most of us.  But just as one year ends so another begins, and new beginnings are opportunities for change!  Today I am giving you three pointers for possible urgent action/change and one key change for Essential HR:

  1. Minimum Wage increases – and its implications
  2. Covid vaccinations are starting to be rolled out – what can you do or not do if staff say no?
  3. Employees whose visas expire – how do you reconcile your responsibilities under both Immigration and Employment Law?
  4. Essential HR – raising its profile in North Canterbury


Minimum Wage Increases

On Thursday (1 April) the minimum adult wage increases to $20 per hour. With the training wage (and starting out wage) increasing to $16 per hour.  So, first off make sure your payroll is fully updated for this.

More significant is the impact on those currently paid just above the minimum wage and on your bottom line. You cannot opt out of this law; neither will you be able to opt out of the sick leave increase and new statutory holiday. This means you have to face an increase of some 8% in wage costs of those employed at minimum wage, and not much less of an increase for those paid just above it.

Now may be a good time to think of reducing other employee-related costs in order to minimise the impact on your sales prices.  This may not be possible if you are already on minimums, and it may mean negotiations with staff, but there are often benefits to both parties in renegotiating agreements, for example in introducing more flexibility so as to more closely match hours worked with the needs of the business and of the individual.

If you want to talk through options, we can help.

Covid Vaccinations

Many will be sighing big sighs of relief that the vaccinations are coming – but it must always be the individual’s right to choose whether or not to be vaccinated.  Yet many businesses will have serious health and safety concerns about having someone in their workplace who is not vaccinated (for example in a Rest Home where you have responsibility for the lives of the elderly).  How do you get that balance right as an employer?

a)    If you have a client who introduces a policy that says “No vaccination, no entry” the chances are you can’t do anything about it.  I would suggest you have an obligation to try (especially if an employee may lose their job as a result) but other than seeking other suitable protective measures there may be little you can do. In this situation you will either have to reallocate those not vaccinated to other sites or enter into a consultative process as a prelude to redundancy because you simply do not have enough work they can do.

b)    If you choose to require all your employees to be vaccinated, you will need good reason and have followed a rigorous change process.  Generally, this will have to be a response to a Health and Safety risk, but it will require a strong and clear business case with full consultation – the end result of which is not that everyone gets vaccinated, but that those who don’t find they have no job!

c)    It is best to seek alternative, less invasive, controls if you can.

If you do wish to introduce any change in this area – the sooner you start the better.

Employees with visas that expire

A recent Court Case has generated significant interest as it appeared to say that a job doesn’t come to an end just because a visa expires.  But looking more closely it becomes apparent that this employee had changed employer and hadn’t got the visa endorsed – it was the change that brought about the loss of job!  But there are important lessons to learn:

a)    The Courts are correct in stating that the mere fact that a visa expires does not bring employment to an end.  Employment is still permanent unless fixed term for some other reason.

b)    Yet under Immigration law the individual may not work if they have no current visa.

c)    So, the Employer has a responsibility to monitor visas and start a process in plenty of time to consult and then terminate employment in the event a visa does not get renewed on time.

If you have not yet got a monitoring system in place, you should make that change straight away.

Essential HR

We have taken an important decision to raise our profile and bring our expertise closer to our clients in North Canterbury.  As of this month we have arranged with Enterprise North Canterbury to have an advisor, Beccy Warwick, based in Enterprise North Canterbury offices in Kaiapoi one day every couple of weeks.  Generally, this is Thursdays and her next time there will be on 8th April.

Pop in and see her, or invite her round to your place, to ask her some curly questions or just to build our working relationship. Contact details below.


Essential HR are here to help.  For ongoing help, contact Mike on 027 2808546 or and Beccy on or 027 2909070 – our landline should be up and running shortly – apologies for delays in reaching us on cell phones. 

I’m happy for you to pass this on to others.

If you need to conference call, we are all set up with Zoom.

Need help managing staff?

Mike has a wealth of experience advising on every aspect of the employer-employee relationship. I can give you per-phone guidance or work along side you to make things happen.

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