The limits of what preparatory steps can lawfully be taken by an employee who intends to leave an employer, and set up his or her own competing business, have been set out in a recent case. In this decision, the Court assessed the obligations an employee owes to its employer in such circumstances, such as fidelity and good faith, in addition to any restrictive covenants or restraints of trade that might apply.
A stern reminder has been issued from the Court regarding the effect that post-dismissal conduct may have on the amount of compensation awarded to a successful party. In this case, an employer’s post-dismissal conduct resulted in the compensation already ordered to be paid to an employee in a lower court, being doubled from $15,000 to $30,000, when it appealed the decision, where it had also been unsuccessful.
Statistics New Zealand reports that the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures the rate of price change of goods and services purchased by New Zealand households and is often used as a factor in determining wage increases, has increased from 0.2% in the March quarter to 0.4 % in the June 2016 quarter. From January 2016 to June 2016, the CPI inflation rate has remained stable, at 0.4 %.
New Zealand’s government ministry responsible for employment matters – the Ministry of Business, Innovation Employment (MBIE) – is continuing to take a tougher approach to non-compliance with employees’ pay. The MBIE has increased the number of prosecutions against employers in 2016. The greatest non-compliance risk for employers is generally where employees have fluctuations in the hours they work, or receive additional pay on top of their normal wages, such as for shift work or commission payments.
New Zealand’s Court of Appeal (the court one tier below the country’s highest court) confirmed that it is not unlawful to disclose a person’s name nor is it offending to their employer, where a court order forbidding publication of those details, has been made, nor is it a “publication” where the employer has a genuine interest in the information.
Several new employment laws (previously reported on) were introduced in April 2016: i) Employment Relations Amendment Act 2016 (came into force on 1 April 2016) This law amends the Employment Relations Act 2000, particularly in relation to ensuring minimum standards are maintained, and appropriate methods of enforcement are available. ii) Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (came into force on 4 April 2016) This law replaces the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. iii) Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Act 2016 (came into force on 4 April 2016) This law amends the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987, and extends eligibility entitlements, particularly in relation to government-paid parental leave.
i) On 1 April 2016, the adult minimum wage went up by 50 cents to NZD15.25 per hour. ii) Employment confidence rose 3.3 points to 104.8 in the March quarter, according to The Westpac-McDermott Miller Employment Confidence Index.
A recent case demonstrates the importance of employers maintaining minimum employment standards, including maintaining adequate records of employees’ hours of work and their wages. Under the new laws, there are tougher sanctions for serious breaches by employers and increased tools for labour inspectors.
Employment Law Across 27 Jurisdictions 2016, an L&E Global and Clyde & Co joint publication, provides a brief outline of the employment law regime across 27 key jurisdictions throughout the globe.
i) Laws called ‘Regulations’ (secondary forms of law) have been released to assist employers with meeting their duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. The Regulations, which come into force with the Act on 4 April 2016, focus on particular activities, risks, hazards and the operation of an industry. A helpful overview […]