Month: March 2018

A No-Fuss Recruitment Process

You told us that one of the most important things when it comes to recruitment is a smooth, no fuss process that doesn’t bog you down in administration. This is something Positive People can deliver for you, but if you decide to go it alone… here’s our insider’s guide to some of the key time savers in  recruitment.

1.Start with a ‘Person Profile’

Along with updating your job description, take some time to consider the personal attributes, competencies, experience and skills that you’re seeking. This is great preparation for writing a targeted and effective advertisement and making sure you make the right hiring decision.

2. Stand out from the crowd with your advertisement

Candidates quickly get tired of job ads full of buzzwords that all sound the same. Be genuine, be real and tell them what’s special about working for you. On Trade Me you can add photos, so consider including pictures of your office, view, last team event, or latest project.

3. Start screening applicants immediately

On the first couple of days after placing the ad, set aside some time throughout the day to review CVs as they come in. Regardless of the job, really hot candidates can go FAST. Losing a candidate through the process due to them accepting another offer is frustrating, disappointing and means more work for you – especially if you have to go back to the drawing board and re-advertise

4. Phone screen applicants

There’s nothing worse than being 10 minutes into an interview and realising it’s not going to work due to hours, salary, holidays booked or some other detail. You wish you had Graham Norton’s red chair. Conduct a thorough phone screen with long-listed candidates, keep your notes and ensure you meet with the best people for the job.

5. Send an interview confirmation email

Sending an email to confirm your name, address, and the time cuts down on misunderstandings and will ultimately save you time. Attach the job description so candidates come ready to talk about the role in detail.

6. Give candidates an application form when they arrive for their interview

An application form is a written declaration from the candidate covering any medical conditions that may affect their ability to perform the role, declaring any criminal convictions or conflicts of interest and giving you permission to contact their referees. Gather this information now and save yourself a headache down the line!

7. Reference check soon

Once you have a candidate that is ticking all the right boxes, get on the phone and arrange to reference check early in the process. It can happen that the person you need to speak to is out of contact immediately or unable to talk to you straight away. Making contact sooner rather than later allows you to be ahead of the game.

8. Don’t forget to decline unsuccessful candidates

Decline completely unsuccessful candidates soon after they apply – this will save you fielding follow-up phone calls and emails. Once you’ve had an offer accepted, decline everyone else. You should call and verbally decline anyone who you interviewed face-to-face. Candidates are potential customers too, so this is an opportunity to protect and promote your business AND your employment brand in the market.

These few simple steps can make life a lot easier for you to save time through the recruitment process and also help you attract the perfect candidate for the role.

2018 Employment Legislation Changes

What the changes mean for you

Although the details of the changes haven’t been confirmed yet, here are our thoughts on what some of the changes might mean for your business.

 

Restoration of meal breaks

In 2015 there were changes to rest and meal break entitlements. Where previously there had been minimum entitlements, the 2015 changes made it up to employers and employees to negotiate when and how long rest and meal breaks should be. An employer is currently required to compensate employees where they cannot give an employee rest and meal breaks, but the legislation does not state what that compensation should be.

The upcoming change will see a re-introduction of required meal and rest breaks to be provided over a work day or shift. However, we don’t expect this to be a huge change for most employers. Many have chosen to continue to apply the same breaks as before the 2015 changes – either written into the employment agreement, or in practice. In addition, the current legislation does state that employees are entitled to breaks. If anything, this change will just provide clarity again on what this means.

 

Restriction of 90-day trials

For those that employ less than 20 people, there won’t be any change. However, if your numbers are creeping up towards 20, you will need to keep across that to ensure that you’re not including a trial period if you’ve become ineligible.

If you employ 20 people or more, you will lose the ability to use the 90-day trial. You will still be able to apply a probationary period. These were in play prior to the trial period being introduced and some employers have continued to use them instead of the trial.

For more information on probationary periods, see our next blog.

 

Reinstatement restored as primary remedy for unjustified dismissal

Reinstatement as the primary remedy means that if an employee is dismissed and successfully challenges the dismissal (the Employment Authority finds that unjustified dismissal has occurred), reinstating the employee to their former role is the first remedy to be considered. In 2011 the Employment Relations Act was amended to remove reinstatement as the primary remedy for unjustified dismissal. However, since then it has still been available as an option and some commentators have pointed to a growing trend in reinstatement as a remedy in recent years.

It’s restoration as primary remedy is unlikely to have a widespread impact. Most employers rarely, if ever, end up in front of the Authority. Also, where reinstatement is genuinely not practical for either party, other remedies for unjustified dismissal can and will still be considered.

 

2018 Employment Legislation Changes

Probationary periods versus trial periods

With employers of 20 people or more not able to use the 90 day trial, the probationary period is likely to be re-visited and re-instated in employment agreements as an alternative. So, what is a probationary period?

A probationary period can be used when an employee starts a new job or is changing roles within the same organisation. It must be recorded in writing in the employment agreement. Unlike the trial period, it can be for any amount of time, provided it is reasonable and that the timeframe is included in the employment agreement clause.

During the probationary period, the employer must:

  • Tell the employee if there are any issues with their work
  • Tell them what the issues are and what good performance looks like
  • Give support and training
  • Give the employee the opportunity to improve

If there are still serious performance issues at the end of the probationary period, the employer must tell the employee what aspects of their performance were not good enough and that they intend to end their employment. The employee must have a chance to respond, and after considering this response, the employer can give the employee notice as per their employment agreement.

The employee can raise a personal grievance on the grounds of unjustified dismissal. The employee may argue, for example, that they weren’t fairly assessed, weren’t given necessary training, or there was not a good reason to dismiss.

How does this differ from the 90-day trial period?

  • A trial period can only be for a maximum of 90 days
  • The employer can dismiss the employee during the trial period
  • With a trial period, the employer does not need to give the reason for the dismissal, nor give the employee the chance to comment before deciding to dismiss
  • The employer does not need to show that they gave the employee the opportunity to improve through feedback, training and support during the trial period
  • The employee cannot bring a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal when dismissed under the 90-day trial

Having a sound process, with correct documentation, is essential to successfully and correctly using a probationary period.

We can help. If you would like to know more about these changes or how they will impact you please contact us on info@positivepeople.co.nz or 09–455–1077.

 

Month: January 2018

Employment Law Changes

This year we are expecting to see a significant shift in the employment legislation landscape, and last week’s announcement signals the start of these changes.

The following changes were confirmed last week:

  • Trial periods will be restricted to small business (up to 19 employees) only. All employers will be able to use probationary periods, but unlike the 90-day trial, these do not allow unjustified dismissal
  • Guaranteed rest and meal breaks
  • A number of changes relating to collective bargaining, including removing the ability of employers to opt out of multi-employer collective agreements.

The bill is expected to have its first reading before February 3rd. In addition, we have the following changes to paid parental leave and minimum wage coming up:

  • The minimum wage will rise to $16.50 per hour ($0.75 increase) from 1st April, with increases set to continue to a targeted $20 per hour by April 2021.
  • Paid parental leave will extend from 18 to 22 weeks from 1st July and to 26 weeks from 1st July 2020

Other changes being indicated include:

  • An increase in minimum redundancy protection for employees affected by restructuring. This could go as far as a statutory entitlement for redundancy pay of at least four weeks for the first year of service and two weeks for each subsequent year of service, up to a maximum of 20 years
  • Contractors who work under the ‘control’ of an employer, but are not employees are likely to see their rights extended for more statutory protection
  • Legislation may be introduced to make it easier for women to bring claims if they consider they are not being paid equally. In particular, changes are likely to give women in female-dominated industries better access to collective bargaining
  • Reinstatement is likely to be re-introduced (it was removed in 2011) as the primary remedy for unjustifiable dismissal claims.
  • Minimum employment standards being extended to apply to all employees working in New Zealand, including foreign employees working for foreign companies. This will impact employers with a globally mobile workforce.

It’s a case of ‘watch this space’ for the possible changes outlined above, followed by looking to see how changes will impact employers and industries when implemented. We’ll keep you informed via this blog, or follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook for regular updates. If unsure of anything, contact us.

 

PositivePeople October 30, 2017 No Comments

ARE YOU ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE LAW WITH YOUR EMPLOYMENT RECORDS?

As an employer, you must keep wage and time, and holidays and leave records that comply with the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Holidays Act 2003. It sounds simple enough, but we all know that it’s often easier said than done. Most employers have a nagging concern that if audited there are likely to be a few gaps (or more than a few in many cases).

Earlier this year, a labour hire company working in the Waikato was fined $57,000 for failing to retain employment agreements or records of wage, time, holidays and leave. Stories like this are a sharp reminder for employers to address any gaps in employment documentation.

So, as a minimum, what do you need to keep on file?

  1. You must keep records for seven years – even if the employee has left. You can keep these records on paper or electronically, as long as the information can be accessed easily and converted into written form.
  2. For many businesses, your payroll system will keep the necessary wage, time, holiday and leave records. If you don’t have a system which contains this information, it is essential to keep your own accurate records.
  3. You must also keep a signed copy of each employee’s employment agreement, as well as current signed terms and conditions (if amended since the agreement was signed) and a clear description of all roles.
  4. In addition, it is recommended that you keep copies of work visas and drivers licences (if applicable), evidence of compliance with health and safety responsibilities, and contact details for each employee as well as their ‘in case of emergency’ contact.

What happens if you don’t keep employee records?

If you don’t have the required documentation, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) or a Labour Inspector may issue an infringement fine. The minimum fine is set at $1000, with a maximum of $20,000 per three-month period if there are multiple breaches.

As well as being a legislative obligation, good record-keeping prevents misunderstandings and protects you and your employee if there is a problem. As such, it is also important to retain all documentation pertaining to performance and disciplinary processes and investigations, at least until such time as any formal warning expires. In a large proportion of cases before the Employment Relations Authority, although the outcome itself may be considered fair and reasonable, the employer has fallen short of the procedural requirements in running the disciplinary process. Hence, retaining evidence of your process is essential.

A recent example was an IT worker, awarded $40,000 after it was found that his employer did not provide all relevant information to him, conduct and/or document a thorough investigation process, or issue formal warnings prior to dismissal. Likewise, in July this year, a cruise ship engineer was awarded $44,000 in lost wages and compensation after the ERA found the dismissal process followed by the employer was flawed, and lacking evidence of a proper investigation or fair hearing.

Don’t get caught out! Please call us to discuss how we can help ensure your employee documentation is in order.

 

 

PositivePeople August 23, 2017 No Comments

GET YOUR BASES COVERED – GET YOUR HR BASICS RIGHT

In today’s busy life, with smart phones constantly buzzing and demands coming from every direction, it is normal and common for us to get really busy, for matters to become over complicated and for us to forget the basics. When you get pressurised and possibly even stressed, or things seem out of kilter, it is helpful to go back to the basics.  Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating well and exercising regularly? These are the essentials which keep us grounded, keep us going and keep us sane.

HR is just the same.

Having employees is challenging as you never know what new situation or behaviour you will face each day. It is often in these situations or when we are faced with a crisis that we realise there are gaps in our HR policies or processes. These are the foundation of effectively managing your team, yet often they are overlooked.

The starting point for dealing with an employee issue is to reference back to your employment related documentation. What is in the job description? What is in the code of conduct? What is in the terms and conditions? What is in the employee handbook? What does the Employment Agreement say? What is in the policies?

Do you have a provision in your employment documentation that relates to the situation you are facing and could provide the solution as to how to handle the situation? Have you set clear expectations for your team members and have these been documented and well communicated?

Too often, however, when we reach for the Employment Agreement, appropriate policy or other essential employment documents, we realise that there are critical gaps. Given the particular circumstance at hand, this is no help to us. A person transgressing can wriggle free when there are holes in the employment documents, and the situation can be, or can become, difficult to remedy.

The key to being confident about handling whatever HR issues are in front of you is to ensure you have the HR  basics covered before you need them. A solid IEA, backed by comprehensive policies and a code of conduct is worth its weight in gold when you have a tricky employment situation. It makes sense for every employer to review these annually to make sure they are in line with legislative changes, and to ensure they have been well communicated to their team members. Communication in advance of an issue can avoid the occurrence of the issue altogether.

Most employees don’t deliberately break rules. When they do, it is often a combination of pressure, a difficult situation or a lack of understanding of workplace expectations and standards. Having sound employment foundation documents not only helps minimise risk, but also helps your team to feel secure and confident in the knowledge that they understand the behaviours and performance standards expected of them.

Just like lack of sleep, it is often not until we get cranky and stressed that we realise we need an early night. Don’t make the same mistake with your team. Make sure you have all your HR basics covered before you need them.

When was the last time you reviewed your HR employment documentation. Positive People can help you make sure you have the right foundations in place to manage your team well.  Call us to find out more. Click here for more information.

PositivePeople July 10, 2017 No Comments

How to improve team morale during national events.

The country has been obsessed with New Zealand sporting success over the past few weeks, as we have been treated to high intensity, highly competitive and exciting yacht races and rugby games.

All of New Zealand cheered when the Emirates NZ crew held the Americas Cup high, and we wondered how to feel on Saturday night as the Lions game ended in a draw. Such sporting events inspire New Zealanders, bring out our national pride and encourage us to see what is possible if we aim high.

And then the victory parade is planned…..and despite the exciting spectacle on offer, what about those of us that just can’t have the time off? It’s a fact that many New Zealanders work in industries where making up the time later just isn’t possible – think construction, manufacturing, distribution, retail and care workers. As understanding as Kiwis are, a sign on a shop front saying, “Closed for the Americas Cup Parade” just won’t cut it when you are in desperate need of sales (or groceries).

So, looking ahead, what can you do to make sure your team don’t miss out on important games and events, but also keep your business ticking over and customers satisfied. Here are a couple of ideas:

  1. If possible, change or adjust your roster around the timing of the event. Can your team start early or late and get their 8 hours done at a different time?
  2. Put the TV or radio on. While it’s not the same as a live game, watching or listening to an event together can inspire a team and be great team building. If it’s a short event, take a quick break and cheer your team on together, or put the radio on so everyone can hear the commentary.
  3. Add in an extra shift. We know a business that added a Saturday shift during the rugby World Cup so that their team could work shorter shifts on game days but still achieve their schedule. This was very well received by the team, meant they kept their hours, and customers still received their goods on time.
  4. Ask for volunteers to work for others. While we saw some team members get very excited about the Americas Cup parade, a good many didn’t see joining 50,000 people in the rain as a great way to spend their afternoon. Getting the team to work together to cover others can build team morale, and ensure no one misses out.

National events are a great way to build Kiwi pride and morale. We just need to be creative with our thinking and everyone on your team can celebrate the things which are important to them.

At Positive People we understand HR, the environment and your team, and we are happy to help.

If you would like to talk to us to see if a free HR Check Up is a good fit for your business, contact the team at Positive People on 09 445 1077, or email us at info@positivepeople.co.nz.

If you would like to check available times to book your HR Check Up click here.

PositivePeople July 6, 2017 No Comments

How to recruit and retain staff in the Auckland market

 With the election campaigns starting to get into full swing, plenty of media attention is being drawn towards the plight of Aucklanders – the unaffordable housing, worsening traffic problems, immigration issues….  the list goes on.

While the reality of these issues change, often dependent on which media commentator you listen to, the combination does add up to a huge impact for Auckland organisations and the attraction and retention of their people.

Over the next year smart businesses will consider these issues, seek to understand the impacts and start to make plans to support their people to overcome these.

Housing

Buying a home is still a Kiwi dream, and with the affordability challenges many people are facing in Auckland, the migration to the regions will continue. Many businesses have started to lose talented team members as they look to buy a house for their family in more affordable areas.

It is still possible to get on the housing ladder in Auckland, but it is a huge challenge for many. Businesses can support their team by investing in financial education, budgeting and property advice to help them save and be able to make a solid plan for their family’s future in Auckland.


Traffic

Traffic is an issue which has plagued Aucklanders for years with no solid plan in sight to rectify the situation. Aucklanders are becoming choosier with their work location in relation to travel. The increase in focus of work/life balance has also seen fewer people finding hours spent in a car travelling to work acceptable. People have started to look for options closer to home.

Travel should start to be a key interview question, to make sure you understand if candidates have considered this in advance of an offer being made. Consideration should also be given to your office location. Are you close to reliable public transport? Do you have a surrounding demographic of people who will want to work in your business? Can you hire locally where possible? Making sure you consider this will help you to retain staff and set your business up to meet future recruitment needs.

Immigration

With the tightening of immigration rules fewer migrants will be available for work, reducing a valuable pool of talent for employers. It’s a good idea to start now and make sure you have a clear picture of which roles will be impacted in your organisation, and how this will affect your hiring. This will allow you time to build for the future by developing internal career paths to fill some of your tough vacancies, and improve your recruitment offering to be more attractive to New Zealand candidates.

It will also be prudent to become familiar with the new immigration legislation and even seek help from immigration experts to help you retain the top immigrants that you might have already in your organisation.

Pressure on wages

Recent information has shown that despite the “rock star” economy, wages in New Zealand have failed to keep pace with economic growth and that lower to middle income households are still doing it tough. This information may embolden employees as they ask for wage increases or actively search for other roles at a higher rate. Market rates have increased significantly in some areas, and it is essential businesses continue to monitor market rates often so they don’t run the risk of being left behind.

Having a well-structured and clearly communicated policy on increases helps to reduce the uncertainty in this area and assists employees understand what they need to do internally to receive an increase. Having an open-door policy around remuneration is essential so your team speak to you first before approaching employers. No-one wants to end up in a bidding war.

Key Take Away Points

  • Provide your employees with financial planning, budgeting & property planning advice
  • Include travel as a key interview question
  • Have flexible hours of work policies in place
  • Develop internal career paths for key team members
  • Improve your recruitment offering
  • Understand the immigration laws
  • Monitor and stay in tune with the comparative job rates in the area

Thinking ahead can help you to be successful through improved retention and team productivity. Understanding the issues and pressures your team face will help you build loyalty and commitment, and some creative HR support focused in the right areas can go a long way to mitigating some of the risks you may face in the future.

At Positive People we understand HR, the environment and your team, and we are happy to help.
If you would like to talk to us to see if a free HR Check Up is a good fit for your business, contact the team at Positive People on 09 445 1077, or email us at info@positivepeople.co.nz.
If you would like to check available times to book your HR Check Up click here.

 

 

 

PositivePeople May 25, 2017 No Comments

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WORK VISAS

Recently the government announced a number of changes to the rules for people applying for skilled migrant visas, effective 14 August 2017. The change predicted to have the biggest impact is the increase in the ‘remuneration threshold’. Applicants who will earn less than the median New Zealand income of $48,859 won’t get any points, even if their job was previously considered as skilled. It will also become harder for their families to relocate to New Zealand with them.

Although your current employees already on a skilled migrant visa will not be immediately impacted, when it is time to apply for a new work visa they will need to meet the new remuneration threshold to be successful. It is also important to note that people applying for a temporary “Essential Skills” work visa can earn less than the $48,859 threshold, but only for a maximum of three years. After this, they will need to ‘stand-down’ and re-apply.

With the recent changes, you may be wondering what can you do to help prospective employees navigate the visa application process? As an employer, you can:

  • Work with a licenced immigration advisor
  • Only provide information that comes directly from the Immigration NZ visa form
  • Direct them to the Immigration NZ website so they can complete the application themselves

You cannot:

  • Give any form of immigration advice, including advising on what type of visa to apply for or what they might qualify for
  • Give guidance on how best to answer questions on the form
  • Represent them to Immigration NZ

Remember the importance of doing your due diligence when hiring someone who already holds a valid work visa.

We recommend you always ask to view and also take a copy of an applicant’s passport and work visa. This allows you to check when the work visa expires and any restrictions that may apply. It is your responsibility as the employer to ensure that they can legally work for you. The maximum penalty for unknowingly employing someone who is not entitled to work in NZ is a fine of $10K. The maximum penalty for allowing or continuing to allow someone to work while knowing that person is not entitled to, is a fine of $50K.

How we can help

It’s likely that, as a result of the recent policy changes, employers will be increasingly interested in becoming accredited by Immigration NZ. The accreditation process involves collating your organisation’s HR information, and often requires background HR work to support and strengthen the application. Positive People can assist with this. We can also put you in touch with licenced immigration consultants and offshore recruitment experts.

 

Contact us today to discuss your needs.

 

PositivePeople April 5, 2017 No Comments

CREATING A CULTURE OF CARE

 

Wellness has become a hot topic in the last few years. In the workplace, the topic of Wellness needs to be seen not only against the commercial imperatives of having well and healthy team members and the compliance risks of transgressing relevant legislation, but also in the light of the expectations that employees increasingly have in working for an organization that truly values and cares for them.

The reality is that employees’ expectations go beyond just compliance with legislation. Doing the minimum may keep you out of trouble in the event of an accident, but misses the chance for you to show that you really care about your people and that your Health & Safety program is not about begrudgingly meeting minimum requirements imposed on your business, but is rather a pro-active internal initiative that beds Wellbeing into your culture.

It is about creating a culture of care where there is a strong Wellness value backed by robust policies and actions that resonate for all employees, and demonstrate to them that their employer cares about them in a genuine way.

The backdrop to the Wellness and Wellbeing momentum is the huge challenge we are facing environmentally. We cannot ignore this elephant in the workplace any longer. The people within our organisations are feeling the environmental vibrations and as business leaders we need to listen to what is being said, and be pro-active in creating operational programs that help alleviate these issues that are exerting pressure on our environment.

Are you in the basic Health & Safety space where you simply comply with what the legislation demands?

Are you in the Voluntary Health space, offering programs that include providing access to a broad range of fitness and healthy living programs like assisting workers improve their fitness, reduce/quit smoking, or alcohol intake, and generally improve their personal health?

Are you are in the Organisational Culture space which is about targeting workplace factors that directly impact on the psychological health of workers and may include initiatives related to the way work is organized, flexibility, work content, the quality and meaningfulness of work, the hours, access to training and improvements to a broad range of workplace factors?

Are you looking ahead and seeing that the space that employees and organisations alike are increasingly going to move into will be the Environmental Change space which acknowledges that the welfare of employees is inextricably linked to the health of the planet? Many of our employees are already here, and many more will inevitably get here soon. Initiatives may include educating your staff by bringing in speakers on the positive value of reducing, re-using and recycling plastics, producing Company logoed re-usable cloth bags for staff, customers and suppliers, and for distribution at company PR events, having a zero tolerance program towards littering in the workplace and having volunteer work teams at local beach clean-up events followed by a Company BBQ.  Hybrid and Electric Vehicles are also becoming increasingly commercial.

These practical examples illustrate to your people that you care about them, you care about the world that they live in and that as a Company you are going to work with them to do something about it.

Creating a culture of care starts with a stated Wellbeing value that shines through operational initiatives and spans across the Health & Safety, Voluntary, Organisational and also the Environmental touchpoints in your business.

It comes down to creating a culture that engages and resonates with your employees. A culture that meets their expectations in a fast changing world, and a culture which shows them that you really do care.