Our Blog

Immigration NZ’s New Accreditation: what employers need to know

As many of you will be aware, the Government has introduced a new work visa which comes into effect from 1 November 2021. This new visa is the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) and it replaces six current visa types.   This change has a significant impact on employers who intend to employ people under this […]

Employment legislation changes

15 March 2019: A significant number of changes have recently been introduced into the legislation governing employment relationships.  Some of these changes have already taken effect, whilst there are further changes coming in April, May and June this year. It is important that employers understand the changes and put in place the right mechanisms, documents and […]

New Bill legislating for fairer workplaces proposed

The Government introduced a new Bill on 25 January 2018 which intends to amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 with the aim of providing greater protection for employees and workers. The Government believes there is a need to restore fairness and balance into New Zealand workplaces. The changes are as expected and include restrictions imposed […]

$57,000 fine for breach of minimum employment standards

This case highlights the heavy consequences and financial implications of knowingly breaching minimum employment standards. BBS is a horticultural company which contracts services to horticultural growers, particularly asparagus producers in the Waikato.  Upon a Labour Inspector visit in 2013, it was discovered the employees were not provided with individual employment agreements, there were no time […]

New employment standards provisions now in force

New employment standards legislation was introduced last year to give greater protection to employees on “zero-hour” contracts, with no guarenteed hours of work.  However, the changes have wider-reaching implications and in one way or another have an impact on almost all employment agreements, particularly regarding: Hours of work clauses and availability provisions Cancellation of shifts […]

Minimum Wage Increases 50 cents per hour on 1 April 2017

As of 1 April 2017 the new minimum wage rates are: Adult — $15.75 an hour Starting-out — $12.60 an hour (up from $12.20) Training — $12.60 an hour (up from $12.20) Starting-out and training minimum wages are 80% of the adult minimum wage. What you’ll need to do: You and your staff can agree […]

Unjustified dismissal before employees started work

In a recent case out of the Christchurch Employment Relations Authority, two employees were unjustifiably dismissed before they had even commenced work. An important point to note is that the 90 day trial period was not able to be relied on because the employment had not actually commenced. Two female employees were employed to work […]

Dotting your I’s and Crossing your T’s when it comes to the 90-Day Trial Period

Speculation over the 90-day trial period and whether it is valid or not has come to light again with a recent case out of the Employment Relations Authority, see: Clark vs Lighthouse ECE Limited [2016] NZERA Auckland 281. The Authority found that the trial period clause was invalid, because it did not specify the date […]

Employee v Contractor – MBIE provides a handy tool

Employees and contractors have different rights and obligations under the employment legislation.  It is common that the distinction between an employee and contractor gets confused. The Labour Inspectorate, part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has released a new guide for workers and employers that summarises the difference between employees and independent […]

Zero-Hour Contracts

The Government wants to prevent unfair employment practices, and have now (from 1 April 2016) legislated against the use of Zero-hour contracts under the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2016. The essence of employment arrangements of this kind is that the worker is offered work as and when the employer or work-user wishes without the guarantee […]

Tougher sanctions for breach of minimum employment standards

The Government has introduced the Employment Standards Legislation Bill. In essence, this is to provide harsher sanctions for exploitative employment practices involving breach of statutory minima relating to wages and holidays. Greater investigative powers for Labour Inspectors and employment institutions will assist in bringing perpetrators to account. At present, the maximum fine is $10,000 for […]

Hastings businesses penalised for failure to provide records

ERA regarded failures as serious breach of employers’ duties to abide by relevant employment and holiday legislation and ordered each business to pay $7,500 in penalties to the Crown. The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered three Hawke’s Bay horticulture contractor businesses to pay a total of $22,500 in penalties for failure to provide employment […]

Understanding and applying the “30 day rule”

With the recent amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 removing the “30-day rule” from 6 March 2015, there may be some confusion as to what employment agreement employers should be offering new employees. We have developed some Q&A’s that will hopefully help determine whether a new employee should be covered by an individual employment agreement […]

Employment agreement should be signed

In the past it has been thought that getting a new employee to sign and return a covering letter would be sufficient acknowledgment and acceptance of an employment offer and the terms and conditions set out in an attached draft employment agreement. The Employment Relations Authority suggested recently that signing a covering letter might not […]

Employment Agreements for New Hires

With the recent amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 removing the “30-day rule” from 6 March 2015, there may be some confusion as to what employment agreement employers should be offering new employees. The answers to the questions below should help determine whether a new employee should be covered by an individual agreement or […]

Christchurch construction company penalised for labour law breaches during Christchurch rebuild

MBIE says this case is typical of a disappointing trend it is starting to see nationally of employers treating employees as contractors to avoid keeping records, making payments to IRD and paying the minimum wage and holiday entitlements. 28 January 2015 The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered wage arrears be paid to workers and imposed […]

Employee or Contractor?

Whether a person is acting as an employee or an independent contractor depends upon the provisions of the agreement, and the real nature of the relationship between the parties. Contractors do not have the same rights as employees, and should therefore seek advice from a lawyer, accountant or other advocate, before entering into this sort […]

Recent case: Employee ordered to pay training cost

An employer successfully sought recovery of training costs incurred by it in respect of a Diploma in Advanced Automation undertaken by an employee, who denied liability for the training costs. Early in 2011, the employee put a proposal to the employer that it fund the Diploma at a cost of $8,144.15. The employer agreed to the […]

Appropriate employment agreements crucial

There are a variety of different types of employment agreements that can apply to employment relationships, including: Permanent full time Fixed term (temporary) Part time – permanent or variable hours Casual Contractor agreements (contract for services) are NOT employment agreements, and should be an entirely different document altogether. Employment agreement create the foundation of the […]

Recent case: Employee fined $50,000 for breaching restraint of trade

A penalty of $50,000 payable to the employer has been imposed on an employee who breached his employment agreement with the employer at least 263 times. The Employment Relations Authority held that the employee was bound by a reasonable restraint of trade and by confidentiality provisions and had breached them by: copying, removing and using […]

Recent case: Time in lieu agreements should be written

Any agreement regarding time in lieu to be taken for working over agreed hours should be written into the employment agreement. The agreement should also make it clear whether the time owed will (or will not) be paid out on the termination of employment. If that is not done an employer may face an unexpected […]

Recent case: Employment of family members problematic

Employing family members can lead to problems as the case noted below shows. Family members should always be given written employment agreements and be paid at least the minimum wage. In Meroiti v Lindale Lodge Ltd [2013] NZERA Wellington 104, Graeme was employed by his brother John as manager of the Lindale Motor Lodge. The […]

Making variations to employment agreements

The world doesn’t stand still, it’s constantly moving and so it the environment in which businesses operate.  Hence, it is very common that the circumstances under which you employed someone may change, and you therefore need to make amendments (or variations) to an employment agreement. The problem is, you cannot simply issue new employment agreements […]

Working from home

An organisation may allow employees to work from home (or some other remote location) in a number of different circumstances. It may be part of an organisation’s encouragement of work-life balance; or it may be in response to an employee’s request for flexible working arrangements; or it may be temporary because the workplace is inaccessible […]

What to do if you’ve been dismissed

It’s an awful situation to find yourself in, but it actually happens more often than you may think.  Being sacked, fired, or instantly (summarily) dismissed without notice can be a huge shock to your system, and your finances!  Feeling bewildered and not knowing where to turn or what to do is common.  So, to give […]

Recent case: Seasonal workers require fixed term employment agreements

An employer who employs seasonal workers must provide those workers with a fixed term agreement that complies in every respect with the Employment Relations Act 2000, section 66. An employer who has engaged a seasonal employee but has failed to provide for a fixed term and then dismisses the employee at the end of the […]

Variation of terms, “custom and practice” and implied terms of employment

As a general rule, contractual terms cannot be varied without the consent of both of the contracting parties. However, an employer has a right to manage his or her business. The line between the employer’s right to manage, which does not require the consent of an employee, and a variation of contract, which does require […]


Employment Protection Provision In accordance with Section 69OI(1) of the Employment Relations Act 2000 (the “Act”), an employee protection provision means a provision— (a) the purpose of which is to provide protection for the employment of employees affected by a restructuring;     and (b) that includes— (i) a process that the employer must follow in negotiating with […]

Part Time and Casual Employees

There is no legal definition of part-time and casual employees. Generally speaking, part-time workers are employed on a permanent basis for less than the ordinary number of hours per week. Part-timers may, for example, work for a few hours a day or for a few days a week on an ongoing basis. Part-time workers have […]