Essential Update - 27th October 2023

Essential Update – 27th October 2023


In this update:


Employee Mental Health Concerns and Excessive Absenteeism

We are seeing an increasing number of cases where Employers are navigating how to deal with Employees who are having an excessive amount of time off work. Many of these situations are linked to the Employee’s mental health, which can be a very sensitive issue.  But, don’t be overawed by this – it requires an approach no different than any other sickness.

It is important to make sure that you, as the Employer, are doing all you reasonably can to support the Employee while they work through some of these issues.  To assist with this, we recommend that you encourage Employees to use any EAP services you may have access to or encouraging them to see their GP or other professional services. You may consider showing reasonable support by allowing them time off of work to seek this assistance.  However, you have a responsibility to the business to keep staff at work and fulfilling their obligations of employment.  This means you need to keep in mind some critical things:

  • Always respect their privacy;
  • Keep in mind they are sick unless you are advised otherwise;
  • Point them towards support – you do not have to do this yourself;
  • Continually be aware of them.

You should share your concern for them without prying, but if it looks like becoming protracted and their absenteeism looks like becoming unsustainable, then you should start a formal process as soon as possible.  At that stage best to give us a call and we can help you manage the need to enforce change sensitively.


Current Political implications

ECE Pay Parity - The first issue arising from the elections, that has raised concerns for some of my clients is in relation to continued support for Pay Parity in ECEs.  If you have a concern that you may go down the Extended Pay Parity route, but are concerned about the government’s willingness to continue funding it, please contact us for appropriate wording to safeguard you financially.

Fair Pay Agreements - The second one is the likelihood that the Fair Pay Agreements will not continue but this is not yet law in any sense of the word, so you should for the moment continue to monitor your industry sector. 


Key Case Law Developments - Family Violence – requesting “proof”

Eligible employees may request family violence leave and/or flexibility in their working conditions to accommodate them while they deal with family violence that they and/or their children are subjected to.

Employers can request “proof” of family violence before this leave or flexibility is granted, though not always before it is taken.  It is important to acknowledge the sensitivity of these requests and ensure that any request for proof is reasonable given the circumstances and the access to a person or organisation who may be able to provide such proof. Employees can also give a reasonable excuse as to why they are unable to gain proof.

The terms “proof” and “reasonable excuse” are not defined in legislation but, as in every employment relationship, parties should act in good faith and, in this case, Employment New Zealand describes it as “being open, honest, and quick to respond”.

Proof could come in the form of police or medical reports, court documents, letters from organisations supporting the employee and their family or, in some cases, a letter of support from a friend.

You may also decide not to require proof at all. Remember that it can be very difficult for those affected by family violence to speak up about it, so if an employee does disclose family violence, show support and carefully consider if you need to request proof.

Some employers fear that employees may abuse this leave but a study has shown that less than 0.5% of employees have asked for paid family violence leave between April 2019 and March 2021, and for those who have taken it, they used less than half of the ten days per year. Abuse of this leave is, therefore, highly unlikely.


Introducing Digital Waitaha – Who they are and how they can help

Digital Waitaha: Navigating the Digital World for Businesses

In today’s digital landscape, where actions online have far-reaching consequences, fostering a safe, ethical, and responsible digital presence is essential. Digital Waitaha guides individuals in mastering digital wellbeing and safety and empowers businesses to excel in this complex digital era.

Mitigating Risks and Ensuring Productivity:

The online presence of business owners carries immense importance. With employees having access to websites and social media accounts, the potential for unintended damage to the brand is a genuine concern. This is where Digital Waitaha comes in.

We advocate a proactive approach to managing online assets. Our guidance helps ensure content aligns with brand values, safeguarding reputation and promoting responsible digital behaviour among employees.


Addressing Workplace Challenges:

Workplaces often see the dual use of digital tools for professional and personal purposes. Email, the internet, and social media are indispensable, yet improper use poses risks. These issues may affect productivity and brand integrity.

Furthermore, the wellbeing and safety of employees online are paramount. Our programs and resources aid individuals in recognizing scams and frauds, enhancing their online personal and data safety, and making informed online decisions that protect personal and business reputations.


Partnering with Digital Waitaha provides businesses with access to tailor-made strategies and solutions. We help establish clear digital usage policies and offer training to heighten awareness. Our comprehensive approach equips businesses to harness the advantages of the digital age while effectively minimizing potential risks.

Find out more at


Jess achieves a milestone!

I want to give recognition where it is due – absolutely thrilled to say that Jess has been acknowledged within the HR profession as an Emerging Professional in HR.  To get this recognition you have to have demonstrated a wide variety of HR skills in practice – which is exactly what she has achieved in the 4 years she has been working for me.  There are still a few things for her to learn –enjoy our walk forward together.


Jess on Leave – Limited Capacity from mid-November till the New Year

She’s been planning it all year and thoroughly deserves it - Jess will be taking her family overseas to see their family in the UK and Europe.  From November 20 till January 8 it will just be me!

If you expect to require some HR assistance from us this side of Christmas, please get in touch as soon as possible. I will need all the notice I can get!


Essential HR are here to help.  For ongoing help call us on – 03 3650532 (voice messages are automatically relayed to Mike), or you can contact Mike directly on 027 2808546 or And if you need to conference call, we are all set up with Zoom.

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

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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