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29 days ago

Employment arrangments

Ronald from Maxron Associates

Do you use contract labour, do you hire via a third party. If so this was posed on the Employment NZ web site about a month ago and may be of interest.

132 days ago

Variations to pay agreements during Covid 109 alert levels

Ronald from Maxron Associates

Did you enter into an agreement to take a pay cut at various alert levels
Some employers and employees may have agreed to a reduction in pay, for example to ensure the financial viability of the businesses and to avoid the need for redundancies.
Any return to standard wages would depend on what … View more
Did you enter into an agreement to take a pay cut at various alert levels
Some employers and employees may have agreed to a reduction in pay, for example to ensure the financial viability of the businesses and to avoid the need for redundancies.
Any return to standard wages would depend on what was agreed. Any reduction in pay must have been mutually agreed and negotiated in good faith. Employees should have had an appropriate amount of time to consider their employer’s proposal.
If an employee agreed to a pay cut at alert level 4, they may be asking should my wages go back to normal at lower alert levels. The short answer is yes, the arrangement you agreed to was for Alert Level 4. If an employer wishes to continue the pay cut in level 3 or 2, they will need to re-negotiate those changes with the employee
Some employers and employees may have agreed to a reduction in hours during Alert Level 4. If hours worked then increase to normal levels at other alert levels, employees should be paid as normal.
The minimum wage and employment agreements apply in all cases.

133 days ago

Employment Advocacy

Ronald from Maxron Associates

Employment Advocates can support you to achieve the best possible outcome for your employment relationship problem at mediation.

Mediation creates a safe environment for employers and employees to communicate privately, with the assistance of an independent mediator.

To be successful at … View more
Employment Advocates can support you to achieve the best possible outcome for your employment relationship problem at mediation.

Mediation creates a safe environment for employers and employees to communicate privately, with the assistance of an independent mediator.

To be successful at mediation, provide your Employment Advocate with an accurate overview of events in chronological order. Remember to keep this brief and only touch on events that are directly relevant to the circumstances. This is more likely to have the most impact.

Attach supporting documentation and a copy of your employment agreement.

Do not exaggerate or misrepresent what happened, otherwise you might be seen as being untrustworthy or unrealistic. It is difficult to recover from this position if this gets exposed in mediation.

Share what impact the employment situation has had on you and your loved ones.

Your Employment Advocate will support you to prepare a professionally presented personal grievance and to structure a persuasive argument.

Keep in mind that the mediator will not make the decision. A settlement at mediation is a voluntary process and the task is to persuade the other side that they should settle.

Eighty percent of all cases settle at mediation. In most cases, both sides give up something to settle.

Hurt and humiliation claims are not taxed and soft benefits such as a Certificate of Service, clearing your employment record, keeping the process confidential, agreeing to a non-disparagement clause and appointing a referee can be valuable.

Follow your Employment Advocate’s instruction during mediation. Do not swear, remain respectful even when provoked and never threaten your employer during mediation.

Take the mediator’s feedback on board. Employment Mediators will provide you with an independent and realistic yardstick of what the case might be worth should you choose to take it to the Employment Authority.

Consider all the risks and all costs at all times. Usually, only strong cases are heard at the Employment Authority because the costs of escalation can be prohibitive.

145 days ago

Changing employment agreements during Covid 19

Ronald from Maxron Associates

All normal employment law still applies to all employment relationships – regardless of the circumstances that we now find ourselves in. This includes anything that has been agreed to in an employment agreement.

Deal with each other in good faith
Employers and employees must continue to … View more
All normal employment law still applies to all employment relationships – regardless of the circumstances that we now find ourselves in. This includes anything that has been agreed to in an employment agreement.

Deal with each other in good faith
Employers and employees must continue to discuss in good faith the implications of COVID-19 on their working arrangements. Where changes to current working arrangements are proposed by an employer, there are specific good faith requirements that must be followed. Any changes made need to be agreed.

Employers and employees may be considering changes in the workplace, temporary shutdowns, reduced hours. These changes still need people to operate in good faith including consulting with employees and their representatives, providing time to respond to proposals and considering their comments.

There may be a situation, where consultation is over a shortened time frame if rapid adjustments are needed. A shorter process must still occur in good faith and provide opportunity for workers to seek advice.

Flexible working
Working as usual may be difficult for employers and employees due to the impacts of COVID-19. Both parties may want flexible ways of working, i.e. working in the morning and the evening, while caring for children, or an elderly relative. Parties should discuss these matters and agree to arrangements in good faith. These changes should be recorded in writing.

Changes to job description
An employer cannot simply change the job description of an employee without the employee’s agreement. In some situations where an employee is unable to do their existing job, an employer can suggest a different job or role. This could be a temporary change until the employee can resume their existing job.

In these situations, the employer must follow the usual process for workplace change, which includes giving the employee a fair opportunity to consider and respond to the proposed change. Any agreed change should be recorded in writing.

Changes to the rate of pay
An employer cannot change an employee’s rate of pay without the employee’s agreement. In some situations, i.e. genuine financial, commercial problems, or genuine restructuring of the business, reducing an employee’s rate of pay may be put forward as an alternative to redundancy.

In these situations, the employer needs to follow the usual process for workplace change, which includes giving the employee a fair opportunity to consider and respond to the proposed change.
During all Alert Levels, businesses are legally required to pay workers for any work they do and must continue to meet all contractual obligations. This means employees – regardless of whether they are working from home, or from their workplace – must be paid at least the minimum wage of $18.90 per hour, or more if the rate in their contract is higher.

A requirement of the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme is to make best endeavours to pay employees at least 80% of their usual salary/wages, and to at least pass on the full value of the Wage Subsidy. However, if an employee is working (either from home, or at a workplace), then they must be paid for each and every hour that they work at their agreed wage rate. This rate cannot be below the minimum wage rate, and any agreed change should be recorded in writing.

Changing the hours of work
Generally, if an employment agreement sets the employee's hours of work, then an employer cannot change them without the employee's agreement. This should be recorded in writing. If the employment agreement says that an employer can change the hours of work, the employer still must act fairly and reasonably before they do.
As with changes to the rates of pay, reducing an employee’s hours may be put forward as an alternative to redundancy. Alternatively, employers may propose changes to work times or moving to shift work arrangements to manage physical distancing requirements.
Again, the employer must follow all the usual processes for workplace change.

163 days ago

Unjustified Dismissal and Covid 19

Ronald from Maxron Associates

I had a call the other day from an upset employee. He told me he had been dismissed by his employer using the 90-day trial period available to smaller employers. They are a small company and at time of his dismissal employed five people, so now they are down to four.
When he sent me his letter of … View more
I had a call the other day from an upset employee. He told me he had been dismissed by his employer using the 90-day trial period available to smaller employers. They are a small company and at time of his dismissal employed five people, so now they are down to four.
When he sent me his letter of dismissal it told him they had monitored his performance over the last couple of weeks and found it not to be up to the standard they would want, so he was dismissed per the 90-day trial clause. It also told him they had partly made the decision as a result of loss of work and revenue due to Covid 19. He was told as he was their highest paid employee this was also a factor.
When I was provided with his IEA it unfortunately makes no mention of a 90-day trail. We are all aware or should be that the 90 trial must be in writing. So, the employer in this case can’t rely on the trial period as an avenue for dismissal.
In addition, a search of the list of employers who have claimed the Covid wage subsidy show that this employer had claimed for all five full time employees sometime after he had been dismissed. Either this was an error or just plain fraud, by claiming for five employees when they only had four.
In brief then not only do they find themselves on the wrong side of an unjustified dismissal claim. They have left themselves open to scrutiny from the Govt re the wage’s subsidy scheme. It clearly states that the subsidy is for 12 weeks and they expect that the employer retains the people it claimed for, for that period.
Why do some employers insist on trying to flout the system is it genuine ignorance, or are they just trying to give it a go?
Take advice people, speak to your accountant about the best way to do this financially. Speak to an ER specialist, talk to the EMA or check the Covid website at www.covid19.govt.nz... but don’t just fly solo.

177 days ago

Covid 19 Wage subsidy

Ronald from Maxron Associates

Over the last few day I have received a number of calls around the Covid19 wage subsidy. I had 4 calls this morning, 1 from an employer and 3 from employees. The employer question was standard and answered easily enough. The employees questions were similar in nature. One had been told that they … View moreOver the last few day I have received a number of calls around the Covid19 wage subsidy. I had 4 calls this morning, 1 from an employer and 3 from employees. The employer question was standard and answered easily enough. The employees questions were similar in nature. One had been told that they would be paid for 3 days but were expected to work for the whole week. 2 had been told they would be paid for the next couple of weeks but would then likely be let go. The first employee is required to be paid a minimum of 80% of his wages, the second 2 should technically work for the next 12 weeks because that's what's expected, that's what the subsidy is for. I have cut and past below the obligations of an employer. I recommend every one goes to the covid19 website for full information. Remember an employer must make their best efforts to retain staff they have claimed the money for. improper claims may result in fraud charges, also you could be required to pay back any money you have received if you haven't used it properly.

Employer obligations
The subsidy is being administered under a high trust model and employers will not be asked for verification before the subsidy is approved. However MSD will have the ability to check applications and verify information at a later date. Where false or misleading information has been provided, employers can be subject to fraud investigation.

To receive the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy, the employer must agree:

that they meet the following subsidy eligibility criteria:
the business is registered and operating in New Zealand
their business has experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month when compared to the same month last year (or a reasonably equivalent month for a business operating less than a year) and that revenue loss is attributable to the COVID-19 outbreak
they have taken active steps to mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19 on their business activities
the employer will make best endeavours to retain the named employees and pay them a minimum of 80% of their normal wages or salary for the duration of the subsidy
the employer has discussed the application with the named employees, who consent to the information in the application:
being provided to MSD; and
being used by MSD, and shared with other agencies, to make decisions about the application, and to review and audit any subsidy granted
the employer consents to the information in the application being verified with other agencies
the employer is aware that they may be audited, and if they provide false or misleading information, they may be investigated for fraud
the employer will notify if circumstances change that affect their eligibility
the employer will repay any amount to which they are not entitled

184 days ago

Covid 19 and employment

Ronald from Maxron Associates

Wage Subsidy Covid 19

I’ve just had my first call from an employee whose employer has accessed the wage subsidy via MSD. That subsidy has a value of:

• $585.80 per week for a full-time employee (20 hrs or more)

• $350.00 per week for a part-time employee (less than 20 hrs).

The payment … View more
Wage Subsidy Covid 19

I’ve just had my first call from an employee whose employer has accessed the wage subsidy via MSD. That subsidy has a value of:

• $585.80 per week for a full-time employee (20 hrs or more)

• $350.00 per week for a part-time employee (less than 20 hrs).

The payment will be made as a lump sum for a period covering 12 weeks. This means employers will receive a payment of $7,029.60 for a full-time employee and $4,200 for a part time employee. The maximum amount any one employer can receive is $150,000.

The complaint from the employee was that the employer met with them and told them during the meeting that they would only be paid for 80% of their time but were expected to work their normal 40 hour or 37.5-hour week. He stated this subsidy was his cash flow.

It is not cash flow; it is a wage subsidy and MUST be used to pay your workers.

239 days ago

Minimum wage

Ronald from Maxron Associates

The current minimum wage is $17.70 an hour set to go to $18.90 on April 1. I'm curious, what others think about that. Are you an employer or senior manager with hiring responsibility's. Will the increase make you change your hiring options. Will you down size, will you absorb the cost, … View moreThe current minimum wage is $17.70 an hour set to go to $18.90 on April 1. I'm curious, what others think about that. Are you an employer or senior manager with hiring responsibility's. Will the increase make you change your hiring options. Will you down size, will you absorb the cost, will you restructure and shed staff. What are your thoughts.

229 days ago

Minimum wage, (outcomes)

Ronald from Maxron Associates

Don't know where these guys get the info, but i already pay more that $5

www.google.com...

369 days ago

Plastic Bags

Ronald from Maxron Associates

I was pretty grumpy when our nanny state decided to tell me I cant have plastic bags from my dairy or takeaway. Mainly because I had to go and buy plastic bags for my home rubbish bins, when I used to use the bag I got from the shop. Last night I went for takeaways and was given plastic bags to … View moreI was pretty grumpy when our nanny state decided to tell me I cant have plastic bags from my dairy or takeaway. Mainly because I had to go and buy plastic bags for my home rubbish bins, when I used to use the bag I got from the shop. Last night I went for takeaways and was given plastic bags to carry it home. I said I thought you couldn't do this any more, she replied no its ok if the bag doesn't have handles. Go figure, plastic bags with handles are more dangerous than plastic bags without handles who'd have thought. Mind you I'm happy again because guess where they fit, you got it, in my rubbish bin under the sink, outstanding.

419 days ago

Employment ERA ruling

Ronald from Maxron Associates

Its 3 weeks old now, but still an example of how employers can make mistakes. its important to have good polices and practices if you don't want to run foul of the law. Follow the link and have a read
www.nzherald.co.nz...

445 days ago

Employment Relations, ERA orders company to pay

Ronald from Maxron Associates

Attached is a link to an article that is of value to business owners large and small and definitely worth a read.
www.nzherald.co.nz...

930 days ago

Holiday pay

Ronald from

Are you a shift worker, a part time worker, do you employ either. It might be worth following the link.
nzh.tw...

1120 days ago

Maxron Associates Ltd

Ronald from

I have just been appointed as an affiliate of the Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of NZ.
AMINZ - The centre of excellence in dispute resolution
AMINZ is the largest professional institute in New Zealand for people working in the area of dispute resolution. Its members include arbitrators, … View more
I have just been appointed as an affiliate of the Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of NZ.
AMINZ - The centre of excellence in dispute resolution
AMINZ is the largest professional institute in New Zealand for people working in the area of dispute resolution. Its members include arbitrators, mediators, adjudicators, conciliators, facilitators, investigators and expert witnesses who come from a variety of sectors. So if you have a dispute, of any kind, AMINZ is best able to provide you with a professional who can help you to solve it.
The Institute is also a major coordinator of dispute resolution education. Its professional qualifications are recognised internationally. It has close ties with many similar organisations overseas.

1181 days ago

Recording of Employees

Ronald from

Im a little confused over all the fuss regrading an MP who is said to have monitored and or recorded the conversations of one of his employees without their knowledge.

It is being stated he had committed a crime under the crimes act in doing so, really. It raised a couple of questions for me.

View more
Im a little confused over all the fuss regrading an MP who is said to have monitored and or recorded the conversations of one of his employees without their knowledge.

It is being stated he had committed a crime under the crimes act in doing so, really. It raised a couple of questions for me.

One is: What has he done that isn’t being done all over the country by hundreds of employers in NZ every day of the week?

There are cameras in just about every restaurant, shopping store, bar, clothing store and a multitude of other places all over the nation. You are being recorded every time you get into a bus to go to work and in many cases so is the conversation between you and the driver. Before any one says but you can see those, yes, I know but what about the ones you can’t.

I’ve been involved in IR and ER issues for a long time and can say that employers regularly put covert cameras in to areas they believe people are stealing from or otherwise misappropriating stock, money, goods or whatever.

Once gathered that “evidence” is then put to the targeted employee or employees as a fait accompli. The expectation being that the now trapped employee says, “fair cop guv”, and leaves.

Suppose he or she doesn’t fall on the sword and stays to argue. Now im no lawyer but if the Todd Barclay issue is correct and the “evidence” is obtained surreptitiously and therefor unlawfully how can it be admissible in court or the ERA or wherever you end up.

That being the case then why is there not a que of disgruntled employees, union members, advocates et-al waiting to pursue remedies in mediation or ERA? Why are dozens of employers not facing charges under the crimes act?

Some time ago I was involved in an issue relating to a staff member accused of theft. The accusation was that the staff member was stealing stock (alcohol) from a store room at work as well as other items. The employer acting on their suspicions hired a private detective who installed covert cameras in identified areas and monitored the person’s behaviour over a period of four weeks.

At the end of the period the employee was confronted shown the footage and asked to leave or the police would be called. Personally, I doubt the police would have been interested as the amount of theft if proven wasn’t an eye watering figure. The PI an ex police officer knew this but relied on the camera footage as a strong enough threat to make the person leave. The employee denied any wrongdoing declined to resign and was fired. A complaint of unfair dismissal ensued and it was off to the Employment Relation’s Authority.

The PI gave his evidence spoke to the veracity of the camera footage as proof of theft, said he was astonished that anyone would argue after seeing the footage. The ERA member for their part said they had watched the footage and gave it no weight. It did not show what happed to the goods after removal from the room, it did not show if or what the person removing it had done with it. How did the employer know that the employee wasn’t simply cleaning the room and put the goods back after? Long story short the employer was found to have not completed a full and proper investigation and the employee was awarded several thousand dollars in compensation. Was that employer charged under the crimes act for unlawfully recording a person. No is the answer.

My other question relates to the Barclay incident itself.

Was he present or involved in any of the incidents he recorded, if he has broken no law. You are allowed per the Crimes Act and the Privacy Act to record anything as long you are a party to it.

What was the nature of the breakdown between the employer and employee, how long had it been going on, was it because of him directly or something he inherited when he took over the office? I don’t suppose we will ever know that now as the settlement was confidential.

I would suggest that the only reason it’s an issue at all is because:
(a) He is an MP
(b) Its election year, and what’s an election year without a controversy of some sort
(c) He got caught because she wouldn’t walk away as expected.

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