Employment Relations

Many people do not fully understand the extent of employment relations, until there is an HR issue.  Some issues cannot be resolved within the employment relationship, so occasionally you need an external facilitator to help reach an outcome. Resolute devises schemes and solutions to help you through the process, to achieve your best outcome. With an in-depth understanding of the Employment Relations Act 2000, Resolute can advise you on the different options available, and how this can work with your business and your personal values. Keeping in mind that there is always a person on the other side of the table, we work together to ensure we are all accounted for and working towards a common goal. If this is not possible, Resolute can assist you through the Mediation process and work with you for the best outcome on the day.

Employment Relations also involves working with unions and employees throughout the employment relationship. Resolute can assist with Collective Bargaining and help you understand the myriad of collective negotiations; so that you can focus on the core of your business.

Human Resources (HR) Processes

Years may have passed, times have changed, and so has the legislation. Now is the best time to review your Individual Employment Agreements (IEA’s). There are new policies that you may need to bring into focus, like a social media policy or domestic violence leave. Resolute can help you add new and needed policies, consult with your staff, and make these changes a part of your everyday workplace standards. Reviewing the IEA can take time. To ensure that you are up to scratch with the latest employment law and how this will affect your team, we can consult your IEA and devise a plan. We keep on top of legislative changes, working together to determine how these will affect your team and your business. Without policies and procedures in place, that you have worked with and educated your team on, it will be difficult to initiate disciplinary action. Resolute can coach you and your team to build these policies and make them fit for your purpose and your people. You can build clear expectations with your team, to ensure everyone is accountable for their own actions and behaviours; with us at Resolute guiding you through the process.

 

Case Study


Trial Period invalid but no award given.

The New Zealand Employment Relations Authority (NZERA) has investigated a case where employees did not sign their Individual Employment Agreement (IEA) until well after they started their employ.  The farmer offered employment under the Federated Farmers IEA.   The employees knew about the 90 Day Trial period in this agreement as they had seen this before and knew that not signing it before starting work would make the Trial period invalid.  They started their work on 1 June and it was soon to be seen that their farm husbandry wasn’t as good as advised in their interview.  The farm owner called a meeting at the end of July and advised that the employment would be terminated under the trial period.  The employees took a personal grievance in early August.   The employees also advised the Authority that they did not have time to seek legal advice, which didn’t stand up, as they had time from May through to 25 July for this opportunity, when they did sign it. 

Whilst there were procedural errors in the farm owners process by not signing the agreements before the employees starting working, there was a stronger view that the employees had known this and used this to their advantage.  The investigation also showed that the employees had moved several times from job to job and that this wasn’t clear in their CV. 

No award was ordered.

Smith & Anor vs Muir [2018] NZERA Auckland 205


If you want to know more about the Trial Period and how to ensure you are doing the right process, give us a call and we can coach you through this process.

Investigations

Do you know what to do if you receive a complaint?  Should you investigate? Or should an independent investigator investigate, to show that you are being fair and reasonable?

Firstly, you should take each complaint seriously and give your employee support. Next, obtain further information to determine whether the complaint should be investigated in-house or independently.

There are so many issues that arise in the course of business that will need investigating. However, once we get an outline of steps and procedures, we can assess whether anyone needs to be stood down or suspended. Do you currently have that ability in your employment agreement? You should always call us first to discuss the next step and to devise a plan for the complaint process.  We need to ensure that we have a fair and objective view of the situation, without any predetermination or judgment. There are always two sides to a story.

Do you have a policy or a process in your handbook outlining the complaint process? If not, your team needs to be aware of their rights and the systems in place to ensure issues are handled correctly. Your team need to know what is happening to them and why. With this, your people will also get an opportunity to respond and know how to do so.

Let Resolute guide you through the process and help you make the fair and reasonable decisions.  Resolute can act as an independent investigator, and/or advise you through any disciplinary process that arises later. There should always be a clear line of separation between the investigator and the decision maker, and we will help you identify this line.

All team members should feel that they have been heard and that their complaint is being taken seriously. The investigation’s outcomes will be another, later discussion.

The importance of confidentiality and witness statements must be kept in mind. These points of discussion add to a myriad of questions which you may receive from your staff and management team.  Resolute will assist you in handling these questions to ensure your business is doing the right thing and reducing risk in any eventual outcome.

Health & Safety

The possibility of daunting fines doesn’t have to scare you. If living and breathing health and safety is your business reality, then you are right on track. If you know that this is not quite your practice, you may be in need of an audit. We can check where your health and safety gaps are, and find how to improve.

Resolute is a team of qualified professionals who are well versed in workplace safety for all spaces, from offices to manufacturing sites. We are happy to discuss health and safety options with you, to visit your site and talk with your people, and to arrange a gap analysis. This helps to find new ways of adding value to your health and safety proposition.

Case study


Dismissal for health and safety violations.

A recent case in the New Zealand Employment Relations Authority highlights that an employer can dismiss employees for disregard to health and safety, with a fair process.

A forklift driver had had an accident at work, this was following a morning toolbox meeting that gave clear instructions not to stack more than two pallets per time so as not to obscure their view.  The employee has done 4 trips with a high number of pallets (2x stacks – 20 pallets) and ran into a parked trailer which caused damage.  The employee continued with another 3 deliveries and when they stopped the forklift locked.  This meant they had to advise the Supervisor there had been an accident and gain a special key to start the forklift.

The next day the Manager advised there was no reporting of the incident, and the company followed this up with an investigation.  The investigation included giving all the evidence to the employee, and an opportunity for them to explain.  Their explanation included that the gradient on the warehouse floor was the issue.  The investigation re-commenced, and this was checked, and video surveillance was reviewed.  The evidence was clear that the employee had been trained for safe operation of the forklift and had been given specific instructions that day, which he had ignored and through his own actions had caused the accident and then failed to report it.

The Authority ruled that a fair process was followed, and the dismissal was fair.

Mason vs Cardinal Logistics Ltd [2018] NZERA Christchurch 88. 13/6/18 C Hickey


Resolute can help you with your Health and Safety plans, processes and how to get your staff involved.  The more they understand about their participation and working together to keep everyone safe, the safer it is for everyone at your business.

Restructures

Sometimes, you have to make changes. Something has to shift and usually the workforce are the first cut.  Resolute can help you prepare for restructures, collate advice and letters, and help you work through an action plan. It is important to ensure the process is fair and all staff get the appropriate information that will affect them.

If the process is skipped and a staff member is treated unfairly, the Employment Relations Authority will be keen to look into your information, and decision process. Change is never easy for anyone, so your reasons must be genuine. Restructures require consultation and opportunity for feedback; Resolute can help with this. We can help you manage the process, ensuring you cover all areas and are prepared for whatever may happen during and after the restructuring.