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Terms

Independent Contractor

A self-employed worker who negotiates their own fees and working arrangements.

Independent contractors can work with multiple employers and organisations at a given time. Independent contractors are not covered by the same employment entitlements as permanent employees. This means they do not get sick leave, annual leave or bereavement leave, and they usually cannot bring a personal grievance claim against an employer.

Employers must be sure they correctly label the nature of their working relationship with a contractor. If an employer gets it wrong or deliberately tries to disguise a permanent employee as a contractor, they may face penalties and be directed to pay outstanding entitlements to the employee. They may also face an unjustified dismissal claim should they cease giving the employee work.

Individual Employment Agreement

An agreement between an employer and employee on the terms and conditions of the employment contract. These types of agreements must be in writing and agreed upon by both parties before the employee starts work.

While the agreement should be signed by the employer and employee, the agreement may still apply even if the employee does not sign the contract unless the employee can prove they did not agree to some or all of it, or part of the agreement is unlawful.

All individual employment agreements must offer at least the minimum employment rights and entitlements.

Induction

Introducing a new employee to a company and getting them up to speed on the way things are done.

The key to a successful induction is to make the new employee feel welcome and valued as a member of the workplace. Inductions typically combine elements of oral presentations (i.e. face-to-face meetings with staff, being shown around the workplace) and written content (i.e. company handbook, guidelines and other booklets).

If the induction is done poorly, this may increase the risk of staff turnover rates and cost the business money to hire new staff.

Intellectual Property

Concepts or ideas created by the mind such as an invention, literary work, product or artistic work. Intellectual property (IP) can be protected by law in the form of a trademark, patent or copyright.

IP not only acknowledges the person who created something, but it protects their idea from being stolen. Protecting the company IP is crucial to achieving long-term success and maintaining a competitive edge. In New Zealand, the Intellectual Property Office helps businesses maintain ownership of their IP and determine what they can or cannot protect.

Interview

Meeting with potential candidates to find out if they are a suitable match for the job. Interviews can be held in a formal or informal manner (i.e. meeting in the office or a nearby café) and involve a number of applicants, or just one.

It is illegal for an employer to ask questions about a candidate’s race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status and other factors that could be used to discriminate against them. If a candidate feels they have been discriminated against—even if they were not hired—they can still file a claim against the employer to the Human Rights Commission.

Investigation

The act of investigating an issue in the workplace. Common acts of misconduct that are investigated in the workplace include theft, bullying, harassment, discrimination and falsifying documents.

Employers should be careful to avoid raising an issue that is either not serious or simply untrue. Before jumping to conclusions, employers should take the time to collect facts and testimonials from the right sources. This means talking to the employee/s who first raised the issue along with reviewing relevant documents, security camera footage, timesheets and other company records.

All investigations must be carried out in good faith and in search of only the facts—not to fabricate the evidence or influence the decisions of those involved.

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