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Terms

Manual Handling

Any activity that requires a person to transport and support a load (i.e. lift, push, pull, throw or carry).

Each industry has different types of tasks that involve manual handling and the risk of injury can occur if the task is repetitive, requires transporting heavy loads, places excessive force on the person, or puts them in an awkward or uncomfortable position.

Under the Health and Safety at work Act 2015, employers have a duty of care to minimise manual handling injuries by assessing, identifying and controlling the hazards that come with manual handling tasks.

Mediation

When an independent person known as a mediator works closely with an employer and employee to resolve a workplace dispute. The mediation process involves a number of steps such as phone and email communication, a face-to-face meeting and recording of the final settlement.

A mediator is a neutral party member and does not take either side of the dispute. They simply identify the cause of the issue and come up with a fair and reasonable outcome to help resolve the case. The mediator does not make a legally binding decision. Neither the employer nor employee can be forced into agreeing with a decision or outcome.

Mediation Services

If a workplace dispute cannot be resolved internally, an employer or employee can directly approach a professional mediation service provider for help. In New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) provides free, confidential support to resolve a range of internal and external workplace disputes.

Once MBIE has collected all the information from both parties, each side will be contacted, and the mediator will arrange a suitable time and place for the mediation session to take place.

Mentor

Someone who is capable of sharing their skills, knowledge and experience with a less experienced employee, which is often a new employee or an existing employee who has assumed a new role.

The mentor can be a person within the company, or outsourced from a professional service provider. By gaining valuable knowledge from a trusted professional, the employee has a better chance of becoming proficient in their new job and making fewer mistakes along the way.

Minimum Employee Rights

New Zealand has a comprehensive range of employment laws and legislations to help keep the workplace fair. Under New Zealand employment law, all employers and employees (i.e. full-time, part-time, casual, fixed-term) are entitled to the same minimum employee rights across the board.

These employee rights guarantee all workers the right to a fair minimum wage, leave entitlements, rest and meal breaks, public holidays and much more. No employment agreement or contract can offer less than the minimum employee rights.

Minimum Wage Act 1983

The current minimum wage law that provides all employees with a guaranteed minimum wage and an annual review by the New Zealand government.

Over the years, the act has been supported with other legislation to reduce the gap between youth and adult wage rates. For example, the Minimum Wage Amendment Act 2007 provided that workers between the age of 16 and 17 and workers in training could no longer be paid less than 80% of the adult minimum wage rate.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)

A public service department of the New Zealand government in charge of helping the New Zealand economy grow and providing a better standard of living for residents.

By offering a combination of advice, services, policies and regulation, the agency works closely with businesses to help them be more competitive, improve the employment opportunities of all people and make it easier to find quality, affordable housing.

The agency was formed in July 2012 and combined the services of previous departments (Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Science and Innovation, Department of Labour, and Department of Building and Housing) to form a single agency.

Misconduct

Any kind of behaviour at work that is not acceptable.

Employers should make it clear what types of behaviour are, and most importantly are not acceptable in the workplace. Some examples of misconduct are being late for work, misuse of computers, poor presentation and treating other employees badly.

Certain types of unwanted behaviour are more serious than others (e.g. stealing or falsifying documents) and can be grounds for instant dismissal. Employers should know the difference between conduct and serious misconduct, and follow the correct disciplinary process based on the situation.

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