Workplace Law stays on the pulse of employment law updates in New Zealand.


How do I manage a casual employee?

Employers have to be very careful when employing someone on a casual basis. First, the employer has to ensure that the casual nature of the employment is recorded in writing in the employment agreement. Second, the employer has to continually, during the employment, monitor the employee’s hours of work.


Are you an independent contractor or an employee?

This is not an easy question to answer. In fact, even if you have an agreement calling you an independent contractor, the Court might find, after hearing the facts and legal arguments, that, in all the circumstances, you are an employee.


Can I dismiss an employee for incompatibility?

The three most common reasons for dismissing an employee are:

1. Poor performance

2. Serious misconduct

3. Redundancy

The courts have, however, long recognised another ground for dismissal which is incompatibility.


How does an employee raise a personal grievance?

An employee must give enough details when raising a grievance.

Bronwyn Higgins worked for Spa & Pool Warehouse Ltd in Auckland as a Customer Service Representative. On 22 April 2011 she was dismissed by her boss, Mr Hall.


When is the owner of a company personally liable to an employee?

Stacey Sissons, a deli worker at Nosh Mount Maunganui, was fired in November 2016. There had been a handful of customer complaints about workers in the deli. Ms Sissons was dismissed without a proper procedure. She was not properly identified as the worker the customers had complained about, and she was not given an opportunity to respond to the complaints. Ms Sissons filed a personal grievance against her employer.


Can employees cash up annual leave?

Employees may request to cash up one week of their four weeks’ minimum entitlement to annual leave every year. An employer doesn’t have to agree.


When should a trial be paid?

Essentially, a trial should be on pay where the employer gains an economic benefit from the employee’s work.


Are restraints of trade legal?

Many people have heard that restraints of trade are not legal and can therefore be ignored. This is incorrect. Restraints of trade are legal providing they are reasonable.


What if you want to raise a personal grievance after 90 days have passed?

Ken Heywood was a Project Supervisor for Ronanye Construction Ltd, a company that specialises in the construction of schools and factories in the Rotorua/Taupo area. Mr Heywood was dismissed on 28 September 2010 but he didn’t raise this grievance until he wrote a letter to the Employment Relations Authority on the 10th of March 2011, some 163 days later.  He had two problems. First, he didn't raise the grievance with his employer (he sent his letter to the Employment Relations Authority), and second, he was way outside the 90 day period.


What if you are made redundant in an undignified way?

The Research and Scholarship Manager ("the Manager") for New Zealand Tertiary College was employed from June 2010 until her position was made redundant in November 2010. The College provides training in early childhood education. The Manager claimed that her redundancy was unjustified because it was not made for genuine reasons and that it was carried out in the procedurally unfair manner.


What happens if someone breaches a confidentiality clause in a settlement agreement?

Every day, all around New Zealand, employers and employees sign up to full and final Settlement Agreements which contain a clause which reads something like: “The terms of this settlement and the discussions leading up to it are to be kept confidential by both parties”.