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Terms

Email Usage Policy

A policy that outlines the terms and conditions of using email in the workplace, clearly telling employees what is, and most importantly what is not acceptable.

An email usage policy includes information such as the potential risks of misusing email, prohibited content, treatment of confidential data, how email is monitored and stored in the workplace, and the consequences of breaching the policy.

Employee Handbook

A handbook is given to employees by an employer. Employee handbooks are a useful resource for employees as they provide information about the company’s policies, workplace culture, code of conduct, procedures and basic explanations of employment law.

Employee handbooks are not required by law. But they are popular among employers because they help to clarify the expectations of the employee and reduce the risk of misunderstandings. An employee handbook is also a great way to introduce new employees to the way things are done in the workplace.

Employment Contract

Also known as an ‘employment agreement’, an employment contract is an agreement between an employer and employee about the terms and conditions of employment. Every employee must have their own written employment contract, whether it be an individual agreement or collective agreement.

An employment contract cannot offer less than the legal minimum rights (i.e. wages, benefits and safe working conditions) or trade off the minimum rights for other things. Depending on the type of agreement and employee, the terms and conditions of the contract may be negotiated in good faith with help from a union member.

Employment Court

If an employer or employee is unhappy with the decision reached by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), either side may be able to challenge the decision in Employment Court.

A challenge must be submitted to Employment Court within 28 days of the ERA reaching their decision. If the application is successful, both parties will be required to exchange relevant forms, attend a formal hearing process and pay the legal fees.

An employer or employee can choose to represent themselves or seek legal advice from a lawyer, union member or employment advocate.

Employment Law

An area of law that governs the employer-employee relationship and covers the minimum rights, obligations and responsibilities of all workers from health and safety to wages, discrimination and unfair dismissal. Employment law is made up of different legislation acts which are applied by the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court.

Notable legislation acts include the Employment Relations Act 2000, Human Rights Act 1993 and the Equal Pay Act 1972. Employers should have a good understanding of the acts relevant to their business to avoid workplace accidents, unfair dismissal claims and personal grievance claims.

Employment Relations Act 2000

The main legislation that governs the employment relationship between employers, employees and union members. The act promotes the concepts of good faith and fairness in all aspects of the employment relationship from negotiating collective and individual agreements, resolving workplace disputes and governing personal grievance claims.

The act also established the Employment Relations Authority and Employment Court and is the leading legislation to enforce all minimum employment rights.

Employment Relations Authority (ERA)

An independent organisation that resolves employment relationship problems. If an employment relationship problem cannot be resolved internally or with help from an independent mediator, the ERA can review and determine the outcome of the case.

The ERA resolves a number of employment relationship problems such as unjustified dismissal, unpaid wages and the breach of employment agreements. If either party is unhappy with the decision the ERA reaches, they can take the matter further to Employment Court.

Entitlement to Work

Prior to hiring a new employee, it is the employer’s responsibility to confirm the new employee is legally allowed to work in New Zealand.

To find out if a potential candidate is a legal worker, the employer must get permission from the candidate to check their visa status. Candidates do not need a valid visa to be offered a job, but they must have one that confirms they are legally allowed to work in New Zealand from the start date of employment.

If an employer knowingly hires an illegal worker, they could be forced to pay a fine of up to $10,000 NZD.

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