Legal Latest - January 2016

Legal Latest

The legal cases settled over the last few months have given a lot of food for thought.  This month will be a long summary – if you want more detail in an area please ask and I will find the relevant case detail for you.

  • Fines for breach of wage records etc – non-compliance with wage records has attracted a $4,000 fine – and when combined with minimum wages breach, a fine of some $25,000.  MBIE have indicated they will be moving to obtain fines of up to $20,000 for companies in breach.
  • Casual employment – the Courts have reminded us that there are 6 criteria that are used to determine if there is a casual nature of employment – number of hours each week; whether it is allocated in advance by roster; regularity of pattern of work; expectation of continuity of employment; requirement of notice of absence or leave; consistency of start/finish times.  The more of these that apply the less likely it is casual.
  • Dismissals – if there are substantive grounds for dismissal even though the process is wrong, the Courts are not awarding lost wages.  But otherwise, you can be up for 3 months lost wages if the dismissal is unjust.  And dismissal for medical reasons without due process recently cost a company $23,000.
  • Settlement Agreements – in order to avoid court hopefully some settlement can be reached – getting these signed off by a mediator (possible even without having a meeting with a mediator) means the employee cannot later claim they were under duress.
  • Suspension – I know it may seem a waste of time, but before you suspend anyone while you investigate a serious misconduct allegation you must give them opportunity to comment – no consultation seems to be giving rise to fines of some $4,000.
  • Health and Safety – while we’re on the subject of fines: one company has incurred fines of $128,000 resulting from a death because (in essence) of inadequate forklift training and no documented system.  Another has incurred $62,000 for a lost thumb just because they allowed a machine guard not to be used.  And be aware the changes that take force from 1 April will increase the potential level of fines as well as make Directors and officers more liable.
  • Immigration – You should be aware that visas for many trades people are now more difficult to obtain.  A range of builder trades will now require 12 months experience in NZ to get a visa under the Canterbury Skills Shortage List – will still be easy for those renewing visas.  Painters, Electricians and Quantity Surveyors have all come off the list and will now need evidence of a local labour market search.

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.

Keeping You Posted

11 April 2024

Essential Update - 11th April 2024

Read Now >
10 January 2024

Essential Update - First update of 2024

Read Now >
4 December 2023

Final 2023 Essential Update

Read Now >