Our lawyers keep up with the latest trends and issues in New Zealand law and business, and regularly publish articles and reports on current topics.

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Dismissed Employees May Not be Compensated - Even if Procedural Errors

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on August 10th, 2015.    

Until recently, it was generally accepted that if an employee was dismissed and the procedure was flawed, then they would be able to claim for lost wages (as well as compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings). However, a recent Employment Court case has taken a different approach in a situation where the flawed procedure did not affect the outcome.

Health and Safety Law Reform: March 2015

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER; Darryl King, PARTNER on March 9th, 2015.    

New Zealand’s Health and Safety legislation is undergoing a major overhaul in response to a renewed
focus on the safety in the workplace. The review was spurred, in part, by the Pike River tragedy and the well-publicised record of the Forestry Industry. The changes will align New Zealand’s approach with Australia’s current law and provide some hefty disincentives to taking a lax approach to Health and Safety.

We have briefly summarised the key changes for you below. Some of them are already in force, but the major changes are scheduled to become active in mid-late 2015


Cash Remedies for Hurt Feelings

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on March 9th, 2015.    

When an employee is dismissed from (or disadvantaged at) work, there will inevitably be a degree of injury to feelings. When that action is not reasonable or justifiable, the impact can be far greater. The Employment Relations Act provides a remedy for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings an employee suffers as a result of unjustifiable dismissal and unjustifiable actions by an employer.

Privacy Breach Results in $168,000 Award for Offensive Cake Baker

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on March 2nd, 2015.    

Ms Hammond was employed by Credit Union Baywide, but had recently resigned to move to another company in the region. A friend of hers had also recently resigned, albeit by way of a mediated settlement. It was clear that Ms Hammond and her friend took a dim view of the circumstances of the friend’s exit. In order to cheer her friend up, Ms Hammond baked a cake which she iced with several abusive words describing Credit Union Baywide.

Port Fails to Follow Own Procedure

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on February 9th, 2015.    

It is not difficult for employers to make procedural errors when taking disciplinary action against employees. It is a regular complaint, particularly from small employers, that the procedural requirements for even simple disciplinary matters are complex and technical. This can lead to findings of unjustified dismissal, not because an employee hasn’t committed serious misconduct, but because a full and fair procedure was not followed to reach that conclusion.

Without Prejudice Conversations

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on August 11th, 2014.    

More and more frequently, people are looking to resolve their disputes without resorting to time-consuming, stressful and expensive formal litigation. Employment disputes are no exception, and have a high rate of out-of-court settlement.

A key feature in finding such a solution is the ability to speak “without prejudice”.

Lucan Battison Successful Over Unlawful School Rules

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on July 1st, 2014.    

Recently the Nation watched with interest as Lucan Battison successfully took St John’s College to the High Court after being suspended for refusing to cut his hair. We have summarised the case below, and provided some general comments about how schools can avoid or minimise the risk of having disciplinary decisions based on non-compliance with school rules challenged.

Health and Safety Regime Changes

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on March 10th, 2014.    

Following the recent publicity surrounding the Pike River tragedy and the Forestry Industry’s record, the Government has begun to implement its plan for a significant overhaul of the Health and Safety legislation.

In this article, we have highlighted a few of the key changes set out in the bill.

Unjustified Dismissal of a Contractor Employee Case Study

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on October 7th, 2013.    

A former employee of Sealord has been awarded over $80,000.00 in lost wages, compensation for humiliation and interest following his dismissal by Sealord.

The case highlights two important issues at the start and end of an employment relationship.

Employment Court Rules on Sick Leave Abuse Case

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on May 7th, 2013.    

Have you ever taken a sickie, thinking this is no big deal let alone something that you might get fired for?

Well, think again. The Employment Court has just confirmed the right of an employer to dismiss employees who take sick leave without there being a genuine sickness/injury.

Falsified Work References and Relevance to Remedies in Unjustified Dismissal

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on May 6th, 2013.    

The case of an employer ordered to pay more than $10,000 to one of his refrigeration engineers who had falsified his work history, wrecked a customer’s equipment and almost electrocuted one of his fellow workers has attracted recent media attention.

So just how did the employer come to lose the case and be up to pay the employee compensation?

Who's the Boss? - Identifying the Boss is Not Simple

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on April 8th, 2013.    

Everybody knows who their boss is right?  The reality is that often employees will not bother to look at their employment agreement to see who they are contracting with.  This, of course, assumes that the employee is even provided with a written agreement in the first place.
Topics: All, Employment

Picking up the Tab - When Do Employers Have to Cover Employees for Losses or Expenses?

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on April 23rd, 2012.    

The law in New Zealand places a duty on an employer to indemnify their employees for costs/ liabilities which arise during the reasonable performance of their duties.

The duty to indemnify is not open ended.  An employer may not have to meet an employee’s employment related costs or loss if those are as a result of the employee’s own negligence, breach of duty or general fault.
Topics: All, Business, Employment

Employment Update: Good Faith After Termination Case Study

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on December 5th, 2011.    

The Employment Relations Authority at Auckland has recently released a decision in the case of Manoharan & Anor v The Chief Executive of Waiariki Institute of Technology. The main issue in the case was whether the dismissal of two employees for serious misconduct was unjustified based on a procedural error.

The more unusual feature of the case is that, following the filing of the claim for unjustified dismissal, the employer sent an email to its remaining employees instructing them not to provide the dismissed pair with any support (with regard to their claim).
Topics: All, Employment

90 Day Trial Periods: New Case Enforces Strict Compliance

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on December 1st, 2011.    

In the case of Blackmore v Honick Properties Limited the Employment Court has bolstered the “strict interpretation” approach taken to 90 day trial periods.  For employers (particularly small businesses) this means that there are several technical requirements which you need to comply with in order for your 90 day trial period to be effective.
Topics: All, Employment


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