Minimum Wage Increases on 1st April

As previously announced by the government the adult minimum wage will increase, from $18.90 to $20.00 per hour on 1 April 2021.

The starting-out and training minimum wage rates will also increase on 1 April 2021, from $15.12 to $16.00 per hour.

As an employer, you need to ensure your payroll systems and processes are updated.

Covid-19 Short-Term Absence Payment

Financial support for businesses to pay people in situations where they cannot work from home and need to stay at home while waiting for a COVID-19 test result.

What is it?

The Payment is a one-off amount of $350 for each eligible worker (full or part time) that is unable to work from home while they are staying home waiting for Covid-19 test results.

Who is it for?

  • For a person, employee or self-employed, that is staying home while waiting for their own Covid-19 test result.
  • Can also be for a parent or caregiver of a dependant that needs to stay home while waiting for a Covid-19 test result
  • A household member or secondary contact of someone who is a close contact to a person with Covid-19, and the worker has been advised to stay home while waiting for the close contact’s test results


Test must have been taken on or after 9 February 2021. The payment can be applied for up to 8 weeks after the test, but not retrospectively if the test was taken before 9 February 2021.

Payment cannot be paid for workers who:

  • Doesn’t have Covid-19 symptoms and involved in routine testing or not been notified through contact tracing to stay home
  • Are returning international air crew
  • Are currently overseas
  • Are staying in managed isolation facilities
  • Are an employee of a State Sector organisation or SOE

Business can’t apply if receiving other Covid -19 wage subsidy or leave support scheme payment for the same worker.


Application must be completed by the business, not the worker. The self-employed or contractors can apply directly.

Payment can be applied for once in a 30 day period (for each eligible worker)

Apply online using MSD online form

Covid-19 Weekly Update – 05.04.20

Well it certainly has been an interesting week and a half as we all get used to working and living differently during the Covid-19 lockdown.

It seems that every day the government is providing more clarification as to things we can do day-to-day and, most importantly for you, how you can use the wage subsidy. There have been many conflicting pieces of advice from employment lawyers and employment relations businesses. As we have digested these varying pieces of interpretation we have taken a ‘use it responsibly and fairly’ attitude.

On Friday Minister Grant Robertson clarified that if a wage subsidy received for a part time employee is more than they would usually get paid then the balance can be used towards paying other employees. The key thing is it MUST be used to pay staff wages.

Wage Subsidy for Sole Traders, Self-Employed and Contractors

We have had many queries from clients who are sole traders, partners in partnerships, and contractors as to whether they can get the wages subsidy. The answer is yes, provided you meet the necessary criteria.

Contact Anna at if you need help filling in the application

Keeping wage subsidy records

You may be asked to prove you have applied the wage subsidy correctly and we will need to account for any subsidy you have received when we prepare your annual accounts at the end of the year so it is important you keep a record of how you spend the money the government gives you for wages.

We have prepared a very simple spreadsheet that will help you keep track of the money you receive and pay out.

If we prepare your payroll for you we will do this for you and can send you updated figures on a regular basis so you know how much you have left to use for wages. If you want a copy of the spreadsheet just email and he will send it to you

At the end of the year please email it back to us with your annual accounts information.

Minimum wage increase

If you are an employer it is important to note the minimum wage rate increased effective from 1st April. Even during the current difficult trading conditions this is the minimum you must pay all of your staff

The rate increases from $17.70 to $18.90 per hour.

7th May Provisional Tax

If Sari normally contacts you prior to provisional tax payments she will still do so as many businesses may need to estimate their provisional tax down due to low trading / no trading in March and doubt about debtor payments.

As usual we will be sending out tax notices to you during April for 7th May payment.

If you have any queries contact Sari – 021-548-489

Annual Accounts

If you are using Xero or MYOB on-line and would like us to get started on your 2020 annual accounts please sign client questionnaires that were previously emailed to you in March, and send them to Sari.

Your bank may need these if you are looking for further support from them during these difficult times. We have two senior accountants as well as Sari working remotely from home who can work on these during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Remember, we are here to help you if you need some advice or assistance, just email or phone us, but most importantly please be safe and stay home so we can all get back to a level of normalcy as soon as possible.


Callaghan Innovation’s R&D Student ‘Experience’ Grants

Callaghan Innovation’s R&D Student ‘Experience’ Grants are now open to help you to access fresh skills and talent to drive innovation in your business.

R&D Student ‘Experience’ grants support students and recent graduates, by funding businesses to engage a student in a R&D activity, giving them the work and technical experience, and in exchange a business will receive new talent, capabilities & fresh thinking to assist you with your R&D endeavours. 

Key Things to Know:
Businesses receive $8,460 (excl. GST) to cover 400 hours of a student’s time to work in your business (equivalent of 10 weeks work);

It’s a great way for a business to bring in a student to add some focus, expertise or blue sky thinking to a R&D project;

Applications for the 2019 student ‘experience’ grant are open between 1 May 2019 – 31 August 2019;

The student must be an Undergrad, Masters or Phd student (note,a student is still eligible if they have recently graduated and their final semester is within 6 months of your application); 

The student’s main area of study must be Science, Technology, Engineering, Design, or Business; 
You can apply now, and then recruit the student later;

and The student can come on-board any time after an application is approved and their work (within the business) must be completed by 31 March 2020.

This year the process is more flexible and faster, and applications are assessed as they are submitted for a faster outcome (approx. 2/3 weeks approval time).  Applications are open for the next 4 months so you can secure the talent you need earlier in the year and before students break for summer.  We recommend that you apply now so you can access and recruit the best talent from around NZ.   
Next steps:
For more information on the R&D Experience Grant and to find out if your business is eligible, please contact Mark Maguire on  We will assist and guide you through the process, as well as approving your application, so please contact us now.

As the region’s economic development agency, one of our core roles is to connect our clever businesses and people with opportunities to grow and innovate.
The Regional Business Partner (RBP) Network is designed to make it easier for NZ businesses to access early-stage support to innovate and grow. This national network is made up of 14 ‘Regional Business Partners’ and is supported by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and Callaghan Innovation – the government’s business innovation agency. 

The Nelson Regional Development Agency is the ‘Regional Business Partner’ for the top of the south.  We provide information, advice, funding and connections to local businesses seeking support for their growth journey.  

What to Say When #4

Taking an Unauthorised day of leave.

We are open on the Tuesday between Nelson Anniversary on the Monday and Waitangi Day on the Wednesday. My employee has said he won’t be coming in on the Tuesday but I need him to work. He is a permanent employee who normally works on a Tuesday. What can I say?

Simply say– “No”, however a few extra words will be helpful if your employee still doesn’t come to work on the Tuesday. An explanation along the following lines will enable you to take action subsequently.

“You have not had leave approved for Tuesday so you are required to come to work. If you do not come to work it is likely to lead to disciplinary action which could result in a warning or dismissal. If you call in sick I will require you to visit a doctor and get a medical certificate. You need to be aware that a medical certificate will not necessarily be accepted as an adequate explanation for your absence if I suspect you were not genuinely ill.”

The key to this conversation is the employee understanding the potential consequences of not turning up to work.

We have just introduced a drug testing policy. A manager has told me she overheard an employee (John) say that if he gets tested he won’t pass. What do I say?

Your new Drug and Alcohol Policy will hopefully help you out here. If one of the circumstances for testing an employee is ‘reasonable cause’, the information the manager heard could be considered reasonable cause. Have a discussion with the manager and take a statement about what she overheard, then speak to the person who was having the conversation with John and take a statement. Then speak to John, providing him with the statements, and advising him on the basis of this information you believe you have reasonable cause to test him. Allow him the opportunity to respond to that proposal before confirming whether or not you will test. Then follow your policy in terms of steps to take for testing and consequences of a non negative result.

Ir-file discontinuation for filing Employer Monthly Schedules and payday filing reminders

The ir-file service in myIR will be discontinued on 11th March.

That means if you file your February Employer Returns online before 11th March, you can file under ir-file as you do now.

If you file after the 11th March you need to use ‘payroll returns’ account in the Business tab section of myIR.

March Employer Monthly Schedules must be filed through the ‘payroll returns’ account.

From 28th February payroll returns will be available in myIR (or earlier if you’ve opted in early to payday filing) and you will need to add it to your work space.

The Business tab section is where you will go to file your payday schedules from 1 April unless your software supports payday filing and you can file directly from the software.

A reminder, your last Employer Monthly Schedule will be for the month of March, due on the 20th April.

From 1st April, you will also need to file payday information within 2 days of paying your employees.

If you file paper returns (only available if annual PAYE and ESCT are less than $50,000) you need to file your information within 10 working days of:

  • the payday, or
  • the 15th and end of month (if you choose to send information twice a month)

Please call Anna at our office on 03 5484894 or email if you have any questions re ir-file or payday filing.

ERA Bill Passes into Law

Changes to the Employment Relations Act

We reported on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill earlier in the year.   In summary, the amendments introduce greater union and employee rights, and the described aim of the changes was to increase fairness between employees and employers (see our previous article here, outlining details of the changes). 

The Bill proposed some significant employment law changes and has therefore taken some time to go through readings and Select Committee processes.  Following endorsement by the majority of the Education and Workforce Committee and then the Bill passing it’s third reading on 5 December 2018, we can now confirm that the proposed changes are going ahead. 

How might the changes impact our clients?

The changes reintroduce more rigid rest and meal break requirements, together with new calculations for how breaks are paid.  If you have applied flexibility to break times and frequency, this may be something you need to change.  Check what you have included in your employment agreements too.

If you have 20 or more staff, you will no longer be able to utilise a 90-day Trial Period for new employees.

Also, if your workplace has a collective employment agreement or union membership, there may be a number of changes that will be relevant to your workplace, such as union representative entering the workplace without consent, pay deductions can no longer be made for partial strikes and businesses must now enter into bargaining for multi-employer collective agreements, if asked to join by a union, for example.

When do the changes take effect?

Most changes take effect at two times: the day after Royal assent (expected the week of 10 December), and on 6 May 2019. 

Changes we are asked about frequently, including the changes to rest and meal break requirements and employers with 20 or more staff no longer being able to use a Trial Period, will be effective 6 May 2019.  

To see all of the specific changes effective on each of these dates, follow this link to MBIE’s employment website: 

If you would like to discuss how any of these changes may potentially affect your business, policies, employment agreements or processes, please contact us on 03 545 0877 to speak to one of our team.

Disclaimer: the content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.

Personal Grievances – When a Win is actually a Loss

A recent personal grievance case between Philipa Johnson and the National Business Review (NBR) resulted in a win for the employee, which actually ended in a financial loss for her when all was said and done. The Employment Relations Authority determined the employee was unjustifiably dismissed. However, the sting in the tail for the employee was that her legal costs were 10 times higher than the compensation she received.

As an employer, it can at times feel like the cards are stacked against you when dealing with a personal grievance. Frequently the better business decision can be to reach a settlement to resolve a dispute even when you have done nothing wrong. From a point of principle this may not feel particularly comfortable.

However, despite best intentions an agreement might not be reached, or you may decide the principle is more important. As a client goes through the decision process to determine which strategy to adopt, we take you through the risks of each pathway and the potential costs of both winning and losing a grievance in the Employment Relations Authority.

At the same time we analyse the risk for the employee and likely value of any compensation award, and this helps inform the decision on how  much to consider offering to reach a settlement if this is the preferred option. There are times the employee is either too greedy or poorly advised and their expectations of a settlement amount are unrealistic.

Affecting the level of the award Johnson received was the Authority’s determination that she breached her employment agreement when she took and distributed confidential information from the employer when she left their employment.

Johnson was awarded $1,666.67 in lost wages and $8,000 in compensation for the unjustified  dismissal. She had claimed $50,000. However, she was ordered to pay a $9,000 penalty for breaching her Employment Agreement, of which $6,750 was to be paid to the NBR and the balance to the Authority. Johnson paid a staggering $96,000 in legal fees.

The winning party ordinarily is awarded $4,500 in costs for a one day hearing in the Authority.  With this in mind, even without the penalty awarded against her, Johnson was always going to be on the losing side financially, as she claimed $50,000. This case demonstrates how principle can override common sense, and some people cannot be negotiated with.

Payday Filing Q&A

What’s changing?

You need to file employment information more frequently


When does it start?

1 April 2019

You can switch early, but most software and paper returns are not available until 1 April 2019


What is payday info?

Employment information, similar to the current employer monthly schedule


When do I file it?

Payday info is due within 2 working days of paying staff if you file electronically (software or myIR). We would recommend filing when processing pays. Information can be amended if need be.

Payday info is due within 10 working days of paying staff if you file via paper (to allow time for the post)

Regional holidays are considered working days

Change over period: you will need to file the March 2019 employer monthly schedule on the 20th of April, while filing payday information for April during April.


When do I pay it?

Payment is still due on the 20th of the following month as before (or 5th and 20th of the month if applicable)

Penalties for late filing and late payment applies just like now


How do I file it?


Most payroll software will enable you to file your payday info directly from the software at the click of a button much like the GST returns. It will simply add a step to your payroll process.


If you are currently filing through myIR (file transfer or onscreen), you will need to log in each payday after you’ve prepared the pays and enter the information. It will work similar to how it works now but moved to the My Business section.


If you are filing paper returns, you can either switch to online filing through myIR or continue filing papers returns (only available to Employers with less than $50,000 PAYE and ESCT per year). Paper returns can be filed on payday basis or twice monthly. A separate form required for new employee details.

Schedular Payments

Schedular payments:

  • Can file as part of regular payroll or
  • Twice monthly (periods covering 1-15th month and 16th-end of month)

Other Info

If you don’t pay anyone in the pay period, Nil returns are not required

If you have a myIR account you can amend previously filed returns online.

Possible to file in advance


What other information do I need to file?

Additional information now required to be filed for new employees, separately to payday information, on or before the new employee’s first payday. There will be a new tab in the My Business section under Payroll called Employees to provide this information.

  • date of birth (if it’s been given to you)
  • start and end date of employment
  • KiwiSaver status
  • Contact detail


Bullying, WorkSafe and Personal Grievances

Recently WorkSafe announced that it will ‘typically only investigate bullying and harassment claims where there is diagnosis of serious mental harm’.

This significantly limits the complaints they will investigate. Although the clear acknowledgement of this is new, it is consistent with WorkSafe’s actions to date.

WorkSafe has never prosecuted anyone for bullying, despite receiving over 100 complaints of bullying in the past 4 years. Of those complaints, only 9 were investigated. WorkSafe receives over 10,000 notifications a year, and they only have the resources to investigate the most serious incidents, primarily those that result in serious physical harm.

Radio NZ recently reported on allegations of bullying at the Bay of Plenty DHBs’ Tauranga Hospital. Two Hospital staff, who were at times suicidal after feeling bullied at the DHB, had their cases turned down for investigation by WorkSafe. This demonstrates just how serious the harm must be before WorkSafe will investigate.

This does not mean employer’s are off the hook. The path to seeking some form of recompense is frequently taken by raising a personal grievance.

A recent case, FGH v RST, was heard in the Employment Court.  The employee was being performance managed, and during that process accused her manager of bullying her. The organisation chose not to investigate the complaint, concluding the employee was simply resistant to being performance managed. The Court criticised this approach, concluding that although the behaviour complained of was ultimately found not to be bullying, the employer had an obligation to investigate the concerns raised rather than dismiss it out of hand.

Bullying investigations are often complex, particularly as bullying behaviour is frequently underhand and out of sight of witnesses. Getting the basics right is a good start.

All of the information you gather has to be provided to the alleged bully. Only in extreme circumstances can information be anonymous. Case law consistently rules a person is entitled to know who is making allegations against them. The alleged bully then needs to be provided adequate time to consider the information before responding to it, and they are entitled to have a support person or representative with them.

Other issues include having one person’s word against the other and no witnesses, witnesses unwilling to provide statements out of fear, imbalances of power between a complainant and the accused, seemingly small incidents that separately are minor but collectively paint a different picture.

Bullying is a health and safety issue, and irrespective of the lack of action WorkSafe is likely to take, if you don’t take action it can adversely affect attendance, productivity, culture, employee retention, and ultimately result in a personal grievance.

If you have any issues at your workplace that concern you, please talk to one of our trained consultants for advice before embarking on an investigation process. We offer 10 minute free advice for any new enquiry.