Essential HR Update
Tuesday 4th May 2021
Another month another moment to stop and consider:
- Do you know what will happen if one of your staff gets trapped in Australia?
- Are you prepared for increasing sick leave?
- Do you know what changes you want to bring about in the year ahead?
Many of you will already have an employee traveling to Aussie to see family – but are you and they clear on what happens if the bubble gets closed and they are trapped there? Or if they return but are forced into isolation on return?
The simple answer is that if they are unable to work remotely they will be unable to work and therefore be forced to take more leave (which would probably be unpaid). But this unexpected unavailability to work could have serious implications for a business. So what should you do?
1) Be sure to consider this explicitly when approving the annual leave request. The prospect for an unintended leave extension can be considered as part of your reasonable consideration of the leave request – you can only decline leave applications if there is a good and sufficient reason – so that may need some discussion.
2) Specifically consider how the employee may be able to work remotely (from Aussie or from isolation, be it managed or self) - it may be possible to arrange this if you plan for it in advance.
3) Be very clear with the employee as to what will happen if they get stuck. But remember - you cannot simply terminate their employment if they get stuck. In the circumstances you should be prepared for at least a short overstay – it is a known risk.
If you want to talk through options or get help with documentation, we can help.
I want to remind you of the guidelines I put out a month ago on the topic of vaccinations and what your options are if an employee refuses to get vaccinated - 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!
If you do wish to introduce any change in this area – the sooner you start the better.
I have been unable to get any clear guidance as to when this is likely to pass into law, but what I can say is that the final Bill appears to be no different from the previous draft. We are looking at an increase to 10 days per annum (to a maximum entitlement of 20 days) and with the change taking effect from each employee’s next entitlement date. There are some things you should be doing:
1) Ensure your budgets for the coming year allow for people taking extra sick leave;
2) Be aware that part-time staff will get a disproportionate increase in sick leave. In particular if you employ someone to work just one day per week (e.g. Saturdays) they will effectively be entitled to 10 weeks’ sick leave per annum. You should be considering, before you employ anyone in this sort of part-time role, how best to structure such an employment;
3) Ensure you have systems for prompt action to address apparent abuse or excessive use of sick leave.
We cannot change the 10-day entitlement, but we can help mitigate its impact.
You may have completed your big picture planning for the coming year – you may be in the middle of it. Wherever you are at, there are likely to be people implications and these need to be planned in now. Some thoughts for you:
1) Hold your annual performance review meetings with a specific intention of getting certain employees to make changes or achieve goals – specifically linked to your bigger picture. This way you get clear targets and less confusion down the track.
2) Plan to get advice where you need it – the Regional Business Partners Network provides 50% funding support if you have less than 50 FTEs. But they have a lengthy waiting list and only have a little funding left for 2021/2. It’s worth registering, though https://www.regionalbusinesspartners.co.nz/
3) If you may need a change in organisational structure – talk to us first, so the process you follow is legal!
We can help turn your plans into reality!
I’m happy for you to pass this on to others.
And if you need to conference call, we are all set up with Zoom.