This week we hosted a panel discussion on employment, focusing on the proposed law changes, recent employment court and authority decisions.
Our panelists, LelseyAnn Thomas (People in Mind), Andrea Twaddle (DTI Lawyers) and Stephen Deverell (Mitre 10 Cambridge), discussed a range of issues and answered questions.
- Expect the employment law rollbacks to come into force but don't lose sleep over the more complex proposals.
It is anticipated that rollback changes such as trial periods, are likely to be passed into law. However the Select Committee has not heard or debated the submissions on any of the proposals, so the more complex or controversial items are unlikely to be fast tracked. It would be wise to start thinking about how the rollbacks might affect your business and have some plans in place, but don't worry about anything else until it happens!
- Have a plan in place regarding domestic violence.
From April 1 2019, the Domestic Violence - Victims' Protection Bill will become a law. Victims of domestic violence will be entitled to 10 days leave, separate to annual or sick leave, each year. Not only will employers need to have the funds available to cover this, you will also need a policy and process in place that respects the sensitivity of the issue and makes it easier for victims to come forward. You should also be prepared assist your employee in the first instance - for example, know what support organisations can help and how to get in touch with them. In some circumstances, you will also need to consider other measures such as changing the employee's phone number, unpublishing their details from your website etc....
A good starting point for more information about what you can do as an employer is the Human Rights Commission – they have a great guideline on what to include in a workplace policy. Are You OK? is also another great resource to help employers get started.
- Create a workplace and environment/culture that people want to be part of
Ultimately, laws change, but you can develop a solid workplace culture that encourages your team to perform, instills loyalty and minimises negativity so the rollbacks do not loom as large on your problem radar. Offer praise, incentives, rewards. If there is an issue, deal directly with the employee, don't write a blanket policy just to address one employee's bad behaviour. And most importantly, have processes in place and follow them (always!)