Could your Volunteer or Woofer be an Employee?

Did you know, that anyone working in return for food and accommodation is likely to be an employee? This means they are entitled to the same minimum employment rights as a paid employee and you need to register as an Employer, file Employer forms with IRD and pay PAYE, check they are allowed to work in New Zealand, keep time and wage records and enroll them in KiwiSaver if they are eligible. You need to make sure they receive minimum entitlement including that the value of what they are getting is not less than minimum wage, and pay sick leave and accrue holiday pay! If you do not deduct PAYE, you still need to calculate the amount of PAYE on the market value of accommodation etc provided and pay it to IRD.

This is not an exhaustive check list, please contact us if you need further information or have any queries.

Easter Trading Law Change

A recent change to the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 now enables councils to decide whether shops in their district can open on Easter Sunday. The change is from Easter 2017, depending on each individual council. We will update you closer to the time with our councils’ local policies.

For employers who plan to open on Easter Sunday, this means you must tell staff of their right to refuse to work, eg by group email. This must be done:

  • between eight and four weeks before Easter Sunday, or
  • as soon as possible if new staff join your business less than four weeks before Easter Sunday.

For employees, the law change means they can:

  • refuse to work on Easter Sunday without giving a reason and without repercussions — but they must tell you they’re not going to work
  • raise a personal grievance against you if they believe they’ve been:
    • made to work Easter Sunday, or
    • treated badly for refusing to work Easter Sunday.

An employee who doesn’t intend to work Easter Sunday must tell you in writing within 14 days of receiving the right to refuse. This can be by letter or email.

The Power of Values in Driving Organisational Change

Most people instinctively understand the concept of values, after all we all have them, but most people tend to think of them as something that relates to a person and not an organisation. However, many successful businesses and organisations, across a range of sectors, are successfully using organisational values as a base to improve the culture in their organisation, drive improvements and deliver real benefits to their customers.

Organisational values represent the guiding principles for the way employees go about their jobs and interact with the customers of the organisation. They define non-negotiable behaviours and they underpin the organisation’s vision.

Placing organisational values at the heart of an organisation can deliver some powerful tools when addressing your organisation’s culture. For instance, organisation values can:

  • Provide a framework for how your employees (from the CEO down) treat one another at work
  • Provide a framework for how your employees treat your customers
  • Provide a framework for achieving your vision and increasing organisational effectiveness
  • Can help to create an environment that facilitates job satisfaction
  • Can help you identify employees who agree with your company’s vision and will fit with the culture
  • Can be used in marketing your organisation’s products or services

To be effective the organisational values cannot just be invented around the Board table or with the Senior Management Team. For this values led approach to be successful, four things are critical:

  • Employees and customers’ opinions about the organisation should form a crucial part in developing the values;
  • The values must be embedded from the top to the bottom
  • The values must be visible in every day work across the organisation
  • The values must be aligned to customer expectations

A brilliant example of an organisation using values to enhance its ability to improve the quality of delivery is the Waitemata DHB. It is referred to as the “Waitemata Experience” and is a values based culture change focused on achieving better outcomes and experiences for its patients. Cruicially the DHB realised was that they couldn’t improve patient outcomes without improving staff outcomes. They determined the DHB’s values by collaborating with their staff and their customers. Their organisational values are:

  • Everyone matters
  • Work with compassion
  • Feel connected
  • Better, best, brilliant

They then worked to develop 16 core standards that relate to the values and drive goals, decision making and behaviour within the DHB.  The DHB sought and analysed feedback from employees and patients and was surprised that the employees’ and the patients’ views didn’t always align on similar topics, for example, employees tended to believe that a good clinical outcome was the top priority for patients, but patients indicated that a good clinical outcome was expected. What the patient saw as a top priority was to be able to ask questions and to be listened to by the health professionals they were dealing with.  Patients also indicated that they wanted to feel welcomed and to feel that the place was a friendly one to visit. Whereas employees indicated that appreciation and recognition by their peers and managers was high on their list of needs.

The DHB has indicated that while the Waitemata Experience is still a work in progress the impact it has had on its employees and patients has been a significant and positive one.

If you are interested in improving the culture of your organisation or keen to explore what organisational values might be able to deliver for you, please contact us.

Are You Guilty of the Following?

Here are five of the most common slip ups employers have been making recently.

1. Not having your employee sign the employment agreement prior to starting is liable to result in problems including:

a. Any 90 day trial period clause would be void

b. Terms and conditions could be difficult to enforce and costly to negotiate after the fact.

c. Depending on how long it takes to get an agreement signed a precedent could be set that dictates what those terms and conditions will be

d. Not having an IEA is in breach of the Employment Relations Act

2. Not doing reference checks at all or not doing thorough reference checks on preferred candidates can lead to problem employees further down the track. If you do reference checks don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions such as ‘Were there any formal performance or disciplinary issues related to this candidate?’ or ‘Would you rehire them into the role they were doing before they left?’ ‘Was there ever any reason to question their integrity?’ Look closely at who their referees are; have they left out their last immediate manager? Why?

3. Not following process. Whether you are restructuring, performance managing or disciplining, there is a process that must be followed. There is a legal process and you may also have a documented internal process. It is important to comply with these to avoid any risk of a personal grievance.

4. Hasty decisions! Don’t make them. It is easy to make snap decisions or say things without thinking through the implications or seeking help first. Once you have communicated your decision or spoken certain words it is almost impossible to take them back or rectify the situation without some cost involved.

5. No Recognition. Failing to recognize good workers can cause employees to become disgruntled. Sometimes these are your best people that will walk and when they go you didn’t see it coming. Celebrate successes of teams or individuals and recognize a job well done. Success breeds success and is contagious. Conversely one disgruntled employee can poison those around them and quickly damage your culture.

 If you are unsure of the correct process when it comes to your employees, call us first. We offer 10 minutes free telephone advice for any new matter.

Chapman ER courses we can recommend

The Ultimate Team Leader

This workshop is our most popular and develops your team leaders and supervisors in areas that enable them to be better than average; they can become the ultimate team leader.

Date:  Wednesday 15 June 2016
Venue: Chapman Employment Relations, 56 Waimea Road, Nelson
Time: 9am – 12.30pm
Cost: $265 + GST (discounts apply for more than one delegate)
Enquiries: please email katrina@chapmaner.co.nz or call 03 545 0877

 

Successful People Management 

This series of 6 x 2hr sessions have been specially developed for people who want to learn the principles of effective and successful people management.  The series provides an opportunity for short but regular training, which can improve learning for busy leaders and managers.

In this series you will develop skills for effect communication, ways to manage difficult people, the disciplinary process as well as strategies to approach and prevent bullying in the workplace. There is also a 2hr session on Health & Safety to ensure you are meeting your minimum legal obligations in this area.

6 x 2hr Sessions, 2.30pm – 4.30pm at Chapman Employment Relations, 56 Waimea Road, Nelson

Session 1: August 10
Session 2: August 24
Session 3: September 7
Session 4: September 21
Session 5: October 12
Session 6: October 26

Cost: $795 + GST (early bird special – register before 1 June) Post early bird $845 + GST
Enquiries: please email katrina@chapmaner.co.nz or call 03 545 0877

 

Ways to Manage a Remote Workforce

If you operate a business that requires your employees or yourself to be mobile or work remotely from home, then you may be familiar with the unique challenges this can present.

With the advanced technology available; companies cutting back on expensive office space and overheads; employees demanding more flexible working arrangements and wasted hours spent sitting in traffic jams in some cities, the increase in mobile or remote workers has increased dramatically.

While some businesses are embracing this shift to more flexible working, others are more wary about what this would mean for productivity, accountability and overall staff performance. How do they reach employees in an emergency? How do they measure output? How much time is spent watching soap operas instead of working?

So to manage your employees remotely, accurately measure their performance and ensure they comply with company policies etc, here are some ways to create a good working employment relationship with your remote workers without compromising on productivity or profitability.

Firstly you need to measure what’s important. It is too difficult to manage something you can’t measure. GPS software allows managers to record, in real-time, vehicle activity details. This doesn’t mean you look over the driver’s shoulder every minute of the day but it does allow you to record important data like start and stop times, the number of jobs completed, idle time and maybe even speeding violations!

You will also need to really communicate well. This doesn’t mean stalking them every minute of the day but it does mean you need to find an easy way for you and your employees to communicate when necessary. Cell phones, CB radios, Smart Phones, Skype are all established and successful methods.

Next you will need to change your way of thinking to concentrate on outputs not activities. Flexible working changes the dynamics of management. You can no longer fixate on controlling what an employees’ day-to-day activities are. Instead step back and look at the big picture. What are the objectives that need to be achieved? Communicate the agreed objectives and leave them to work out how they can accomplish those goals. Have trust in them that they will use creativity and initiative to achieve the desired outcomes, or ask for help if they need it.

How much do you think you will you need to change especially if you’ve been used to a more hands-on management style, or been a ‘micro manager’? There is no doubt that some change will be required from you so be prepared for that and set the example for your employees.

Trust is going to be the most important aspect of this change. You need to give your staff the benefit of the doubt, extending trust until they show they’re undeserving of it. Reward the positive behaviour expected but ensure there are consequences for behaviour that doesn’t reach the standard required.

Finally, remember that technology will never replace you as a manager, but you can use it to complement your management of them. Make use of on-line meeting tools like Skype or instant chat to keep the communication lines open and contact with your employees easier than ever before. Web-based software for recording timesheets, sending and receiving e-mails, or monitoring staff location can be valuable tools to keep track of your employees if there is a requirement to do so.

So are you ready for your work force to work from Mars? It’s only an 18 month response time!

Modernising Parental Leave

The Employment Standards Legislation Bill which came into effect on 1 April 2016 brings some changes to Parental Leave, including:

  • Parental leave payment period extended to 18 weeks
  • Parental leave payment extended to non-standard workers and those who have recently changed jobs
  • Entitlements extended to a wider range of permanent arrangement carers with primary responsibility of a child under 6 years
  • Unpaid leave can be taken flexibly within the first year
  • Introducing “Keeping in Touch” hours of work – for example to do training, hand overs and ease back into work
  • Extending unpaid leave to workers who have been with their employer for more than six months but less than 12
  • Allowing workers to resign and still receive payments
  • Increasing penalties for fraud
  • Providing additional parental leave payments for parents of preterm babies

Some of the above requires certain eligibility criteria be met and some are by mutual agreement with the Employer, so it pays to communicate your plans. To read more about the changes and to find out the details about leave entitlements and criteria visit one of these sites:

Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

IRD

Fair & Productive Work Places

The 1 April 2016 legislative changes also address the zero hour contracts and includes changes to hours of work commitments and what employers can expect from employees and aims to increase certainty for both parties.

When the employer and the employee agree to hours of work, those hours must be stated in the employment agreement including the number of hours, start and finish times or the days of the week the employee will work. The employer and employee do not have to agree on hours but when they do it must be recorded in the employment agreement.

Employers are now prohibited from the following practices:

  • Not committing to any hours of work, and expecting employees to be available when required
  • Expecting employees to be available above their agreed hours, without reasonable compensation. Employers are not obliged to offer, and employees are free to decline, work that is above the agreed hours.
  • Requiring employees to be available, without a genuine reason based on reasonable grounds
  • Canceling a shift without reasonable notice or reasonable compensation to the employee. Notice period and reasonable compensation must be agreed and stated in the employment agreement. If the employee has commenced their shift or if reasonable notice period or compensation is not recorded, the employee is entitled to what they would have otherwise earned for that shift.
  • Putting unreasonable restrictions on secondary employment of employees. Reasonable ground for restriction could be related to risk of loss to the employer of knowledge, property or reputation or to prevent a real and unmanageable conflict of interest.
  • Making unreasonable deductions from employees’ wages. Employees must now consent to deductions from wages. Deductions to cover losses caused by a third party through breakages or theft may be unreasonable.

Employer’s Decision to Dismiss Upheld by Employment Relations Authority

The case background

A Wanganui care worker with almost 30 years’ experience was sacked when a frail and elderly man she looked after claimed he felt “unsafe, neglected and scared” by her.

The man says the worker, Tuahine Hansen, would order him to make her cups of tea and do housework.

Mrs Hansen claims the complaints were untrue and the man and his housemate were coerced into making her look bad. She argued she was unjustifiably dismissed and sought compensation for lost wages, hurt and humiliation.

However, the Employment Relations Authority upheld Mrs Hansen’s dismissal from her role as a community support worker for Idea Services.

She had worked for the service for nine years and for IHC for 19 years before that.

For the 15 years until her sacking last year, Mrs Hansen provided support to two people in a Wanganui home, owned by the man who made the complaints and referred to by the authority as Mr A.

“The allegations made by Mr A, who was described by Ideas Services as frail and elderly, were that he felt unsafe, neglected and scared at times due to his treatment from Mrs Hansen,” the authority decision says.

“Specific allegations he had made were that Mrs Hansen sat on the couch and called him out of his room to make her cups of tea, that she made him do housework which he found very difficult, and that he was scared to ask her to hang the sheets out. If he did, she had a ‘go’ at him.”

When her employer, Dallas Barns, Area Manager, Idea Services, investigated, Mrs Hansen accused another support worker who did shifts at the house of coercing Mr A and the other man who lived there into making her look bad.

She denied other allegations against her.

The other worker, Heather McDonnell, said she had known for a couple of years something was not right at the house and Mr A was initially reluctant to talk about his problems regarding Mrs Hansen.

Mrs Hansen, whose employment file showed evidence of warnings and performance issues, was dismissed.

Mrs Hansen’s representative Alaska Dobbs questioned the adequacy of Idea Services’ probe and said there were dangers in relying on statements made by “vulnerable people who were easily influenced”.

Employment Relations Authority member, Trish MacKinnon, said she ”did not believe Ms Barns reached her decision lightly and I accept that she acted as a fair and reasonable employer is required to do”.

Mrs Hansen’s claim to have been unjustifiably dismissed failed and her application was dismissed.

 Measured and Methodical Process:

Authority Member MacKinnon said she was satisfied that a comprehensive and fair investigation into the complaints was undertaken and that the process was conducted in a “measured and methodical” fashion.

Once the complaint was raised Idea Services wrote to Mrs Hansen informing her of the allegations and asking her to a meeting to respond to the allegations. The outcome of the meeting was that a disciplinary investigation would be carried out. Mrs Hansen was informed that due to the seriousness of the allegations, dismissal was a possibility.

Following exploration of other alternatives, Mrs Hansen was placed on paid suspension for safety reasons.

The investigation was carried out with notes of those meetings provided to the Authority.

As a result of the investigation, further allegations were put to Mrs Hansen in another letter and a further meeting scheduled. After that meeting Ms Barns re-interviewed the complainants, reviewed Mrs Hansen’s personal file, reviewed all options open to her and wrote Mrs Hansen another letter.

This letter said a tentative decision had been reached, what it was and that no final decision would be made until Mrs Hansen had had the opportunity to respond to the tentative conclusion and the possibility of dismissal. That opportunity was given in the next meeting.

After hearing from Mrs Hansen and her supporters, the meeting adjourned.

When it reconvened Ms Barns informed Mrs Hansen she had listened to what had been said but her trust and confidence in Mrs Hansen had gone. She explained the reasons for this and informed Mrs Hansen that she would be dismissed with two weeks’ pay in lieu of notice.

Ms MacKinnon was satisfied that a comprehensive and fair investigation into the complaints was undertaken and that the process was conducted in a measured and methodical fashion. At all times Mrs Hansen had support staff available to assist her. Where necessary, timeframes for meetings were extended to allow for unforeseen events. Ms MacKinnon was also satisfied that the matters Mrs Hansen raised during the process were genuinely considered and that Ms Barns did not reach her decision to dismiss Mrs Hansen lightly. Ms MacKinnon accepted that Ms Barns acted as a fair and reasonable employer is required to do.

Conclusion:

The Authority will look closely at the process followed – it pays to ensure you follow a measured and methodical investigation and disciplinary process.

Minimum wage increase

The Government announced that the adult minimum wage will go up by 50 cents to $15.25 an hour from 1 April 2016.

The starting-out and training hourly minimum wages rates will also increase from $11.80 to $12.20 per hour from 1 April 2016.