Welcome to the Christmas 2018 Edition of Bartlett Law’s Crystal Ball.  Due to its sparkling tone and being smaller than usual, we have nicknamed this edition “The Crystal Bauble”.

 

Here are important recent events in the exciting world of workplace law.

 

Bartlett Law is very pleased to welcome Carolyn Heaton to our team of expert lawyers.  Carolyn has joined us from Morrison Kent.  She has over 25 years’ experience, and has worked in all areas of employment law.  She is a trained mediator and has a special interest in dispute resolution.  We are thrilled to welcome her to the firm.

 

Mental Health First Aid Courses

We’ve been seeing a lot in the media recently about health and safety and that it is not just taking care of physical health.   There’s mental health to consider too.

We often attend first aid courses for such things as learning how to perform CPR and attend to broken bones, cuts and grazes.  But how would you fare if you were presented with a mental health challenge?  Would you know how to get involved and what you could offer someone needing mental health first aid?  Our Health and Safety Officer has recently looked into this and has found some very good information that we would like to share with you.

St John is offering a one day course in all the main centres of New Zealand that will help you recognise the signs of a mental health crisis, how to help, where to find information, all whilst keeping yourself safe in the process too.  You will learn about:

 

H             Hazards – that are around you.  Are you safe?

E              Engaging – starting the conversation

A             Acting – where you can go for help

D             Debriefing – are you okay?  Did you respond well to the mental health crisis?

 

For more information, watch Duncan Garner’s interview with St John’s representative:

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/lifestyle/2018/07/st-john-launches-mental-health-first-aid-courses.html

 

Or book a course through:

https://www.stjohn.org.nz/first-aid/first-aid-course-overview/mental-health-first-aid-course/?utm_source=am_show&utm_medium=vanityurl&utm_campaign=mental_health

 

 

Equal Pay Amendment Bill

Following the landmark Bartlett v Terranova decisions and two joint working groups of unions, government and business, the Government introduced the Equal Pay Amendment Bill on 9 September 2018.  Submissions closed on 28 November 2018.

The Equal Pay Amendment Bill amends the Equal Pay Act 1972 and establishes a bargaining process for progressing pay equity claims (claims for female dominated occupations that have been historically undervalued).  The Bill maintains the right for people to bring equal pay claims when women and men are paid differently for doing the same work.  The Bill also seeks to amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 and repeal the Government Service Equal Pay Act 1960.  It is understood that the Select Committee will hear oral submissions into the Bill in early 2019.

 

The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018

The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 was passed on 5 December 2018.  Most changes take effect on 12 December 2018 or Monday 6 May 2019.

Here’s our summary of key changes.

 

With effect from 12 December 2018:

  • Union representatives can enter the workplace without employer consent, where workers are covered by or bargaining for a collective agreement. Consent for access is retained for some situations.
  • A union can initiate bargaining 20 working days before an employer can
  • Pay deductions cannot be made for partial strikes, eg. Refusing to wear a uniform
  • If asked to by a union, employers must bargain for a multi-employer collective agreement. They will not have to settle a MECA if their reason for not doing so is based on reasonable grounds
  • Employees have more protection against discrimination due to their union membership status
  • If an employee requests it, reinstatement will be the first remedy considered by the Employment Relations Authority for an employee who has been unjustifiably dismissed
  • New categories of employees can apply to receive the protections afforded to “vulnerable employees” in a restructuring situation.

 

With effect from 6 May 2019:

  • the right to set times for rest and meal breaks is restored
  • 90 day no fault trial periods for new employees can only be used by employers with fewer than 20 employees. Employers with 20 or more employees will still be able to use probationary periods
  • Employees in specified “vulnerable industries” will be able to transfer on their current terms and conditions if their work is restructured
  • For single-employer collective bargaining, the duty to conclude bargaining will be restored, unless there are genuine reasons based on reasonable grounds not to
  • the 30-day rule will be restored – if the workplace has an applicable collective agreement, for the first 30 days of their employment, new employees must be employed on terms that are consistent with the collective and they must be given information about the collective and the union
  • pay rates will need to be included in collective agreements, plus how they may increase over the term of the collective
  • where the workplace has a relevant collective agreement, within the first 10 days of their employment, employers will need to give new employees an approved “active choice” form and return the form to the union, unless the employee objects.
  • employers will need to allow reasonable paid time for union delegates to undertake their union activities
  • where an employer is a party to a collective agreement, that employer will need to pass on information about the role and function of the relevant union to prospective employees.

 

Watch this space – in future editions of Crystal Ball we will cover:

  • amendments to the Privacy Act 1993 – a Bill to amend this Act is currently before the Justice Select Committee. The Committee is expected to report back on 13 March 2019
  • pictorial employment agreements – the new reality?

 

Christmas Song

 And now for our special Christmas wish (optional: can be sung to the tune of Hark the Herald Angels Sing:)

 

Hark!  The work-place law-yers sing!

Up-hold-ing laws is our thing

Fair pay for all; no-one’s riled

Ev’ry one’s re-con-ciled!

 

Our Christmas Hours

We are closing for the year on Friday 21 December and we reopen on 14 January 2019.

We wish you all a happy Christmas and a great 2019.

 

 

Penelope,  Carolyn,  Camilla,  Suzanne  and  Andrea

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