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Employment Issues – are you up with the law?

Guest blog from Steve Dukeson, Dukesons Business Law

If you’re an employer and you don’t see something wrong with each of the scenarios below, you need to accept that you don’t have a good understanding of basic employment law in New Zealand and that you need to consult someone who does.

Consider these scenarios (which are random selections):

  • you’ve just taken an employee on board.  You gave them a copy of the proposed employment agreement several days before they started work, it complies with New Zealand law, and it has a trial period clause in it.  The employee said that they haven’t had chance to go through the agreement and that they will do so later. You don’t see any problem with this;
  • you’ve also taken on board an employee for a fixed term of 6 months, because you don’t want to have to go through the hassles of having to fire them if they don’t work out – if they do work out, you will offer them another fixed term contract for 6 months;
  • you had taken on board an employee on the basis of a casual employment agreement, because you weren’t sure how much work you would have for them but over time, a regular work pattern has developed;
  • you’re sure that an employee has been stealing from the till and one of your other employees say that they saw the employee stealing money.  As a result, you’ve fired the employee on the spot because you think that the position is clear cut;
  • there are allegations by a customer that one of your employees has mistreated the customer.  The employee denies this.  You make further inquiries and as a result, without discussing things further with your employee, you fire them;
  • you’re going through hard times and the simplest thing to do seems to be to fire one of your employees.  You choose an employee because you dislike them and you tell them that you have to let them go.  You tell them that they should leave immediately;
  • an employee isn’t shaping up. It turns out that they didn’t really have enough experience or skill and they just aren’t progressing. You fire them because they can’t do the job;
  • you want to hire an employee and before making a decision, you carry out a credit check on them and you get information about them from someone you know he previously employed them.  You didn’t see any need to get the employee’s consent and didn’t advise them that this is what you intend to do.

This update provides general information only and doesn’t constitute legal advice.  Please don’t hesitate to contact Steve if he can assist you with any employment matters OR with any other legal issues relating to your business (contracts, company, commercial, trade marks, etc). Steve’s contact details are below:

Steven Dukeson LL.M. (Hons.)
Dukesons Business Law
PO Box 946, Shortland St, Auckland 1140, New Zealand
Level 3 (Room 303B), Achilles House, 8 Commerce St, Auckland
Phone 64 9 379 4556 Fax 64 9 379 4557
Email: steve@dukesons.co.nz