Christmas 2017 / New Year 2018


Payment of Staff over Christmas / New Year

Due to the day on which Christmas/New Year and Boxing Day/1 January fall this year the calculation of payment and leave entitlement is a little more straight forward than the immediately preceding years.

As none of the above days fall on a Saturday/Sunday there is no requirement to transfer the day in which the public holiday is worked on.

The provisions of The Holidays Act 2003 will therefore mean:

  • If an employee is rostered to work on any of the four (4) public holidays that fall over this period they shall be entitled to 0.50 of their hourly rate for each hour, or part thereof, worked on the day, in addition to their usual remuneration payment for the day.
  •  If this is a regular/rostered day for them they shall also be entitled to a fully paid alternative day for each public holiday worked with this to be taken at a later agreed date.
  • If the employees rostered day(s) off fall on any of the public holidays they shall not be entitled to any payment for the day on account that the day on which the public holiday felt was not a regular working day for them (no transferring principles will apply


Payment Calculations

The calculation for hourly paid employees will be relatively straight forward of they work on the day, this being one and one half times their usual hourly rate for each hour (or part thereof) worked on the day.

For salaried paid employees it is a little more complex with the payment entitlement being determined by the actual number of hours worked on the day.

  • If the employee works more than 2/3 of their usual daily working hours then they will be entitled to receive an additional payment (over and above their usual salary daily rate) equal to 0.50 of the nominal hourly rate for each hour physically worked on each public holiday.
  • The nominal hourly rate being determined by dividing the average daily rate by the average number of hours usually worked per day.
  • If the employee works less than 2/3 of their usual hours no additional payments (over and above their usual daily salary payment) are required on account that the payment received will equate to at least time and one half for each hour worked on the day.

If you have any questions regarding calculating payments to staff over this period please feel free to contact us.



Potential Employment Issues within a changing political environment

With a change of Government there is the expectation that significant changes will be made to the current employment legislation. Although the Coalition Government has not released its confirmed employment policy a number of potential changes have already been talked up by the Minister with these expected to take shape further in the New Year. Changes on the horizon and there likely to be:

  • An increase in the Minimum Wage from the current $15.75 to $16.50 as of 1 April 2018, with this being the commencement of a process to see the Minimum Wage reach $20.00 per hour by 2021. (this will of course have substantial flow on effects to other workers currently within the $18 – 25 per hour bracket who will be seeking similar increases to retain their current relativities
  • Tightening of the s67A 90 Day Trial period provisions to render these almost unusable for employers. (see further article below)
  • Reduction of immigration numbers resulting in a tightening labour market. With unemployment already at relatively low figures (4.7%), and with 3.0% unemployment being deemed an acceptable threshold to account for individuals who will never hold down a regular job, those transitioning between jobs and those having a break from employment the real ‘unemployment rate’ is more likely to be 1.7%. With a reduction in immigrant workers this will mean available labour resources will become extremely scarce with a flow on effect being that productivity (and the economy) may slow down. Economic growth is anticipated to reduce by 0.4% (to 3.0%) in the next 12 month period with inflation increasing from 1.4% to 2.0% in the same period. 
  • Greater scrutiny on employers of immigrant workers whereby, should the employer be deemed to have breached the Minimum Employment Standards (ERA 2000) not only will they incur significant penalties, they may have their right to employee immigrant labour (including those staff already employed) withdrawn for a period.
  • Introduction of Minimum Award Standard (Fair Pay) for specific groups of workers. Following on the back of the recent Pay Equality Ruling for Health Care Workers which imposed minimum legal rates of pay it is widely anticipated that the groups of workers to be covered within a national ‘fair pay’ award structure will be greatly increased.
  • Review of The Holidays Act 2003 which may include:
    • An increase in the number of eligible sick days from 5 to 10 annually
    • A potential increase in the number of annual leave days to be provided
    • An increase in the number of public holidays that may be made available
    • A change to the way payments for leave, sick, bereavement and public holidays is calculated
  • Enhanced provisions to promoted collective bargaining and union membership

While the above are being widely discussed by the new Government the final shape of any new legislation will only be know at a later date as the Coalition Government further structures its overall employment strategy and policies.



Will 90 Day Trial Periods survive the Labour Government?

In the past 90 day trial periods have been utilised by Employers to assess an Employee’s suitability for the position in which they have been appointed. However, with a change of Government the question then arises as to whether these 90 Day Trial Periods will still be permitted.

It is commonly accepted that the Labour Party, and the Unions, are not the biggest supporters of the 90 Day Trial Provisions currently in place and as such the new Government is proposing to make changes to the way in which these operate.

Currently, if an Employee is terminated under the 90 day trial period provisions they have no right to lodge a personal grievance against the Employer except where the Employer waives this provision, or if there has been some form of alleged discrimination or harassment. Under the new Government however, it appears that long gone will be the days where an Employee cannot lodge a personal grievance under the 90 Day Trial Provisions.

The Government is proposing that an Employee will be able to lodge a personal grievance against an Employer if their employment is terminated under the 90 day trial period. Once a personal grievance is lodged an independent Referee will be appointed to determine whether the dismissal was justified in all of the surrounding circumstances. If the Referee determines that the dismissal was unjustified, then they may have the ability to fine the Employer up to $5,000.00 for the unjustified dismissal. Not only do Referees have the ability to fine Employers, all of their decisions will be binding and there will be no right of appeal! To top this off, it appears that the process will be conducted without representatives being permitted.

Such changes to the way that 90 day trial periods operate will take away an Employer’s desire to utilise these methods to assess an Employee’s suitability for a role within their company. If the Government successfully implements these changes into legislation then we predict that the use of probationary periods will become more common in the Employment field.



Job Descriptions: A Fundamental Part of Business Success

Job Descriptions act as a foundation for most Human Resource management practices including recruitment and onboarding, induction, training and development, performance management planning, and job evaluation.  

More specifically however, job descriptions require careful planning as they are essentially arranged into the necessary structures within a business so that special contributions can be made when working towards overall business success. 

To ensure each position is clearly defined; well written, accurate and up to date job or position descriptions are a must.

So what is a Job Description?

A job or position description is a written statement that outlines generic information such as company information, position title, reporting line, delegated authorities, and its place in the organisation structure. It then defines the purpose and responsibilities of the position by describing specific contributions which are often defined as ‘key responsibilities’ along with its corresponding expectation or outcome, often defined as ‘outcome expectations’. 

A job or position description may also include ‘key competencies’ that outlines a set of skills and abilities required for the position,  followed by a ‘person specification’ section that states the minimum set of skills or abilities a ‘person’ (the position holder) needs to have and also demonstrate, in order to be appointed to the position. Furthermore, the person specification may also outline any pre-employment checks that require clearance in order to be appointed to the position. 

Duties and responsibilities will differ across positions and departments however a typical generic template will include the following headings:

  1. Purpose
  2. Relationships
  3. Decision Making Authority
  4. Key Responsibilities & Outcome Expectations
  5. Key Competencies
  6. Person Specification
  7. Company Values

For each employee, a good job description helps them to understand:

  • Their duties and responsibilities
  • The relative importance of their duties
  • How their position contributes to the mission, goals and objectives of the business

For the business, good job descriptions contribute to organizational effectiveness by:

  • Ensuring that the work carried out by staff aligns with the business mission statement and strategic vision.
  • Assisting management to clearly identify the most appropriate employee for new duties, and when realigning workloads.

Ongoing, Job descriptions should be revised when the position becomes vacant, or when significant changes to the business impacts directly on it. When a position becomes vacant, consider reviewing what should be kept in it, and what should be left out, so that you are accurately capturing the current responsibilities of the business.

When changes occur to the business, employers should actively involve the employee in any job description revisions that they currently fulfil.   Any significant changes to the responsibilities of an employee need to be discussed and negotiated with them, and then written consent obtained. Fundamental changes may attract claims of constructive dismissal.

At Russell Drake Consulting we work with Employers in all industries on Human Resource and Employment Relations. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like some advice on any of the topics in this article, we’ll be happy to help.



The Team at Russell Drake Consulting / EMA Waikato wish to thank all clients for their valued support during 2017.

This year has presented some very interesting employment cases and we feel privileged to have been able to assist our clients through these situations.

We hope that you will all be able to have a good break over the Christmas / New Year period and we look forward to the opportunity to continuing our relationship with you into 2018 and beyond.

Our office will be closed from Friday, 22 December 2017 (midday) through to Monday, 8 January 2018, however if there are any urgent matters you need assistance with throughout this period please feel free to contact Bruce on mobile 021 686 720 or email  and we will get back to you as quickly as possible. Alternatively, call our office number (07) 838 0018 and you will be transferred to Bruce directly.

From all of the Team at Russell Drake Consulting / EMA Waikato we wish you a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.

Russell, Linda-Maree, Bruce, Ashley, Gina and Ursula


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