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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Pass the Parcel: Employment Court decision delivers warning for owner drivers

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER; Jeremy Ansell, SENIOR LAWYER on May 28th, 2020.    

Courier drivers have long been categorised by the Courts as contractors and not employees, largely due to industry practice. The Employment Court recently reconsidered how owner drivers in the courier sector were to be classified in the case of Leota v Parcel Express Limited. Mr Leota was a driver who provided courier services to Parcel Express Limited under an agreement which identified the arrangement as a contract for services. Although the Court said the decision related to the specific facts of Mr Leota’s relationship with Parcel Express Limited, the decision to declare him an employee may set precedent for other owner drivers, especially those operating under a similar model and contract to that used by Parcel Express.

Topics: Employment

Responding to COVID-19: A Business Guide

Written by Darryl King PARTNER; David Alizade PARTNER; Claire Godber SENIOR ASSOCIATE; Glenn Finnigan PARTNER; Mark Sullivan PARTNER; Caroline Harris PARTNER; Kelly Seabourne PARTNER on March 24th, 2020.    

As COVID-19 spreads and the number of cases around the world climbs, businesses need to take definitive action now to address what is shaping up to be the most significant challenge for some time.

Coronavirus and Employment

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER; Jeremy Ansell, SENIOR LAWYER on March 23rd, 2020.    

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has dominated world headlines in 2020 and is likely to do so for some time to come. New Zealand is not immune from the effects of the virus and just this week the Government announced a $12.1 billion stimulus package to assist employers and the wider economy in coping with the impact of the virus. COVID-19 brings with it a range of employment law issues that employers should turn their mind to as soon as possible.

Topics: Employment

Legal update: Government foreshadows changes to contractors' rights

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER; Jeremy Ansell, SENIOR LAWYER on February 17th, 2020.    

The Government has released a consultation document which tries to address the long-standing issue of “misclassifying” employees as contractors. This sometimes occurs because employers are ignorant of what constitutes a true principal/contractor relationship under the law.  However sometimes it occurs as a deliberate attempt to deprive workers of key employment rights.

Topics: Employment

When is "full and final" actually final?

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER; Jeremy Ansell, SENIOR LAWYER on August 12th, 2019.    

Until recently, the finality of section 149 settlement agreements has been left largely untouched by the Employment Relations Authority, and Courts have been reluctant to set aside settlement agreements unless one of the parties was considered to lack the legal capacity to enter into an agreement.

The recent case of Bagley v Deloitte Limited [2019] has broadened the circumstances in which the validity of these agreements can be challenged. It sets a potentially concerning precedent that employers should be wary of.
Topics: Employment

Stop press! New domestic violence leave soon to come into force

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER; Jeremy Ansell, SENIOR LAWYER on February 20th, 2019.    

The Domestic Violence – Victims Protection Act 2018 was passed into law last year and comes into force on 1 April 2019. Businesses should be aware it has significant impacts in the employment sphere and there are numerous amendments to the Employment Relations Act and Holidays Act as a result of its passing.
Topics: Employment

The bare minimum: Minimum entitlements under the microscope

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER; Jeremy Ansell, SENIOR LAWYER on February 18th, 2019.    

The Labour Inspectorate has announced a renewed focus on breaches of minimum employment standards for employees. Towards the end of last year the Inspectorate announced that Antares Restaurant Group (operator of Burger King restaurants in New Zealand) had been placed on MBIE’s stand-down list of employers who have breached employment legislation and are not allowed to recruit migrant workers or support working VISA applications. The Burger King case should serve as a timely reminder for businesses to ensure they are complying with employment laws and are not knowingly or unknowingly breaching (or involved in breaching) an employee’s minimum entitlements.
Topics: Employment

Too casual: A costly reminder for employers

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER; Jeremy Ansell, SENIOR LAWYER on January 23rd, 2019.    

Failing to recognise the correct status of an employee can result in not providing them with their correct entitlements. This was an expensive mistake one employer came to discover recently.

Topics: Employment

Changes on the Horizon: Employment Relations Amendment Bill

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER; Jeremy Ansell, SENIOR LAWYER on September 28th, 2018.    

Businesses may be aware that change is in the air as the coalition Government’s Employment Relations Amendment Bill (“ERAB”) makes its way through Parliament. The Education and Workforce Select Committee have recently completed their analysis of the Bill and have recommended it be passed into law, with a few tweaks made. Here are ten key points you should be aware of.


A Changing Climate - Don't Get Caught Out In The Cold

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER; Jeremy Ansell, SENIOR LAWYER on August 13th, 2018.    

Allegations surfaced last year concerning the sexual misconduct of Hollywood players such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, which brought forth the #metoo movement. Suddenly bullying, harassment, and unwanted sexual behaviour has been in the spotlight like never before, even if its existence was never justified.

It's Out - Employment Relations Amendment Bill

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on January 26th, 2018.    

The Government has release its plans for reform of the employment laws. A summary of the areas where changes will be happening are attached.


Paying the Price for Decision over Workplace Tantrum

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on July 12th, 2016.    

Until the robots take over, an essential feature of workplaces will be human interaction.  When combined with the pressures of modern employment, the broad range of personality types can often lead to conflict which an employer will need to step in and resolve.

However, a recent Authority decision is a handy reminder that the employer must act fairly in any steps it takes – as well as being realistic about the level of 
bad behaviour that will justify termination.  

Employment Update: Amendments to the Employment Relations Act

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on May 2nd, 2016.    

The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2016 (the Act) came into force on 1 April 2016, but many employers may have missed its important changes while coming to grips with the implications of the new health and safety regime.

We summarise the changes below, along with our comments about some potential unexpected consequences they might have.

Health and Safety Update: New Regulations Bolster General Duties

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER on April 14th, 2016.    

Over the past 18 months, we have followed the development of a new health and safety regime for New Zealand.  The core duties under that new regime are contained in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.  While the Act deals in broad duties, detailed requirements for certain key areas and industries are set out in the newly released regulations.  

Health and Safety at Work Act: Visual Summary

Written by Glenn Finnigan, PARTNER; Darryl King, PARTNER; Claire Godber, SENIOR ASSOCIATE on April 12th, 2016.    

All workplaces in New Zealand need to comply with the new Health and Safety at Work Act.  Existing health and safety systems will need updating across low risk and high risk industries, ranging from small businesses to large corporates.  Directors and senior managers have non-delegable duties and personal liability. 



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