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.

Victory Primary School benefits from $15,000 donation from local business

Below is a recent article from the Nelson Mail about one of our clients, Vortex Spas making a very generous donation to help local kids. Photo is courtesy of Nelson Mail & Fairfax Media

Congratulations Andrew, what a great initiative.

 

A generous donation from a local business has helped Victory Primary School provide food for disadvantaged pupils.

The school had applied for the help of charitable trust KidsCan, which provides food, clothing and other basic needs for those in need.

But KidsCan has a waiting list because they’re already helping 500 schools and more than 115,000 children around New Zealand.

Victory’s large role of 400-plus pupils also meant it faced a long wait, potentially years, to get into the programme. That’s when Vortex Spas came in.

Managing director Andrew Pullen said the company didn’t know about the school’s application when he approached KidsCan about becoming “more proactive” in their support of local charities.

“We wanted to support our own community first and foremost, we wanted to support the most disadvantaged section of the community and we want to support basic needs first.”

Vortex Spas donated $15,000 cash to KidsCan, which saw Victory Primary School accepted into the programme providing lunches for pupisl.

“It’s the teachers and the staff here that really do the heavy lifting,” Pullen said.

The school and the spa business are now organising a raffle to raise $10,000 in funds with the aim to get raincoats for all pupils and shoes for those that need them.

“What we’re really looking for is for the whole of Nelson to be supporting this. If we receive some great success, we’ll be extending out outside of just the Victory area,” Pullen said.

Tickets for the raffle are $5 and available from Benge & Co greengrocers, Stacey Clothing in Richmond, Victory School reception and at a stall at the Nelson Market.

The first prize is a Vortex Spa pool valued at over $11,000. The second prize is a Weber BBQ valued at $1000. Other prizes include Stacey Clothing vouchers, Pestell’s meat vouchers and Benge & Co green grocer voucher.

The winning ticket will the drawn at Victory Primary School on July 8 at 10am.

The top five ticket sellers from Victory Primary School will go on a training run with the Tasman Makos, Pullen said.

School principal Helen Taylor-Young she was quite overwhelmed by Vortex Spas generosity.

“The great thing for us is that it means can get on with the teaching and learning,” she said.

“I feel very privileged that Andrew chose us first.

“The great thing here is that we got a good infrastructure with the community centre and the school partnership, it’s a great place to roll it out and to trial it here.”

Tax Refund Services

Tax Refund Services are advertising heavily at the moment. Rest assured, that if you are a client of ours that we prepare tax return(s) for, we will calculate your tax refund/payment due. If you believe you are owed a tax refund for past years, before you became a client but within the last 5 years, we can look this up for you too.

If you are a client, please contact us first if you have any queries as applying online with another company will cause you to be delinked from our tax agent list with IRD and linked to theirs. When it comes time to prepare your accounts and/or tax return, we will need to relink you to our list, causing an unnecessary charge.

 

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.

Health & Safety

With the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 now in force, it is a good time to review workplace practices and the roles of its’ people. Following is a brief summary and links to where you can find out more about the details.

The aim of the new Act is to improve New Zealand’s woeful health and safety record and turn it around to a positive, pro-active and robust health and safety culture in our work force. Everyone has a right to go home safely. The focus is on effective governance and it brings new responsibilities for everyone in the workplace. Changes include:

  • Increased penalties for non-compliance
  • Wider enforcement tools for non-compliance
  • A new three tiered hierarchy of offences
  • Duties owed by employers and principals is replaced by duty owed by ‘persons conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU)
  • New due diligence obligation on directors and officers to take reasonable steps to:
    • ensure PCBU complies with its duty to ensure health and safety of others
    • acquire and maintain current knowledge of health and safety matters, and hazards and risks associated with the company’s operations
    • ensure the PCBU has sufficient resources to manage health and safety risks and that it uses those resources
    • ensure the company complies with its health and safety duties
  • New duty owed by PCBU to take ‘reasonably practicable steps’ to ensure the health and safety of workers and other persons, including the environment not posing risks, provide adequate facilities, information, protection and training. Conditions in the workplace must be monitored to prevent injury. Worker participation in health and safety matters is increased. Workers also have a duty to take reasonable care with health and safety of themselves and others.

Management or Statutory Liability insurance policies will generally include amendments to existing Act or new Acts to be automatically included. Whilst the Act prohibits insuring against fines, certain others costs and financial consequences of a prosecution can be insured against and due to the wider duties the costs associated with a prosecution under the Act can be expected to increase. Now is therefore a good time to review your indemnity limit in your Liability insurance policy.

WorkSafe New Zealand’s user friendly website is a great resource with information, presentations, tools and resources.

The Institute of Directors have issued a document called Good Governance Practice Guidelines which provides directors advice on how they can influence health and safety performance in their organisations.  It includes further detail and provides more in-depth analysis of the changes and requirements placed on Directors.

Health and Safety at Work Regulations 2016 supporting the new Act is available to assist with compliance.

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

Health & Safety

From the 1st April stringent new rules come into force with regards Health & Safety in the Workplace. This is something that affects every business, even our office based business, so you need to make sure you understand the new legislation and  take steps to ensure your workplace is a safe environment for you and your staff.

Go to Work Safe information page here to find out just what is a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) who can be held personally responsible for a workplace accident – you NEED to know.

IRD Compliance Focus

Each year IRD target a few specific issues relating to tax payer compliance, carrying out investigation and audit activities to recover unpaid tax and penalties.

For every $1 spent by Inland Revenue on compliance focus activities they are recovering approximately $8 from non-compliant tax payers.

In the next year they will receive a funding boost from the government to increase their compliance focus work, which is likely to increase the scope and frequency of IRD investigations and audits.

IRD have indicated that key areas which they will be targeting over the coming year include:

 

The Hidden Economy

This includes any illegal activities or income earned outside of tax system (i.e. “cashies”). The IRD have signalled they have recently had success prosecuting several industries that deal largely in cash, such as takeaway restaurants, beauty salons and builders.

With increased funding Inland Revenue will have greater resources to identify offenders and conduct more investigations into these types of businesses.

 

Property Investment

Previously, residential property sales were only regarded as taxable if it was the purchasers “intention” at the time the property was purchased to resell it for a profit.

However, with the introduction of the Bright Line legislation in October this year, IRD now have an objective test to supplement the intention test, to help determine whether the sale of a residential property is taxable.

Therefore, Inland Revenue are ramping up audit activity in this area to try and catch any property speculators who in the past have hidden their intentions to make tax-free gains on the sale of property.

 

GST Refunds

Inland Revenue will be focusing on tax payers who receive large GST refunds and those who receive GST refunds on an ongoing basis.

For large GST refunds they are likely to request documentation (such as copies of invoices and receipts) to verify the GST claim.

The risk with taxpayers who consistently receive GST refunds is that they may no longer be eligible to be GST registered and should therefore have deregistered for GST (e.g. if the business has ceased or it has slowed down so much that it is a “hobby” rather than a taxable activity).

For any clients who think they might be at risk of audit by the IRD, we urge you to make sure that you are declaring all of your income and complying with all relevant tax laws.

 

It is never too late to come clean to IRD, as up until an audit notification is received from them, taxpayers can make a voluntary disclosure of any mistakes or omissions from tax returns, which can significantly reduce the amount of penalties and interest Inland Revenue will charge on any underpaid tax.

If you are not sure you have met all of your tax obligations or have any questions about Inland Revenue’s compliance focus please contact our office.