Getting ready for employment changes

Employment law changes take effect on 1 April 2011 - are you prepared?

Farmer Freddy and his daughter, Pebbles, are having a nice cup of tea on a rare day they both have off. They are talking about how well Billy, the new farm hand, is working out and how Farmer Freddy seems to have ironed out all of his previous employment problems.

"Now, Dad," begins Pebbles, "are you sure that you have a handle on all of the employment law changes that are going to happen on 1 April?"

Freddy splutters into his tea. "What changes?" he exclaims.

"Well, Dad," replies Pebbles, "for a start the minimum wage is increasing to $13 gross per hour. You have to make sure that Billy is being paid at least that for each hour worked."

"But he's on a salary," says Freddy, chuffed that he doesn't have to deal with that problem.

"Dad," says Pebbles, "the minimum wage applies to salaried workers as well, so you will have to manage Billy's hours so you don't fall foul of that one".

"OK," says Farmer Freddy. "I can handle that."

"There are a lot of changes, Dad," says Pebbles. "For example, the Holidays Act is being changed so that you can agree to cash up a week's annual leave per year of entitlement and you can agree to transfer the observance of a public holiday too. And one of the changes to the Employment Relations Act is that by 1 July, every employer will have to keep a record of the terms and conditions of employment by keeping a signed copy of the employment agreement on file."

"But what it Billy doesn't give me back the agreement I gave him to sign?" asks Freddy.

"That's easy," said Pebbles. "You need to keep a draft on the file if the employee hasn't signed. However, you're going to have to make an effort to get theses things done properly.

"He really shouldn't have started work until you had sorted all of the paperwork out.

"But you have time. Just keep asking Billy for it back and, if he doesn't get it back to you, write to him to ask for it."

"Seems silly to have all this formality. Most blokes just want to get on with the job," says Freddy.

"Well, maybe, Dad," says Pebbles. "But the formality is important, especially when something goes wrong, as you well know. Anyway, I think some of the changes are good. Cashing up annual leave should give you some flexibility."

"Yes, I suppose so," says Freddy. "But I suppose that Billy will need to agree to do that?"

"That's right Dad," replies Pebbles. "It's only an option if the employee requests it. You can't force him into it. And look, Dad, these are only some of the changes. Talk to your employment lawyer, or go and look it all up on the Department of Labour website"

"Crikey Pebbles," says Freddy "I might need a lie down first."


The content of this document is necessarily general and readers should seek specific advice on particular matters and not rely solely on this document.
If you would like more information on any of the topics in this document, please contact your usual Auld Brewer Mazengarb & McEwen adviser.
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