If the employer is unable to provide work, such as in the current circumstances of a Government ordered lockdown, it is likely you are entitled to be paid, in the absence of a term in your employment agreement which specifies otherwise. Any changes to your current agreement have to be agreed to and can’t have life after things go back to normal. Any changes to an employment require agreement negotiation and agreement. There are several ways in which employment relationships may be ended, such as resignation, retirement, dismissal or redundancy. This is not true. If your employee tries to wrongfully reduce your benefits, you can take legal action to secure your compensation and hold them accountable. This article describes the various schemes available. Instead, you and your employer could agree to a policy or letter with temporary changes to your work arrangements while you are working at home. Generally entitlements will include notice or pay in lieu of notice and possibly redundancy pay. Your employer may want to vary your employment agreements. This could be a temporary change until the employee can resume their existing job. Good faith is a legal requirement in Section 4 of the Employment Relations Act 2000. Please note that this content will change over time and may be out of date. These levies can be a significant business cost, but there are ways of reducing them. The employer must follow a process to reach agreement with employees. Your employer has to keep honouring your employment agreement. If you work isn’t essential you should be staying home. What about workplace health and safety and COVID-19? You always have the right to stop work if you believe it is unsafe. Your employer can’t change your contract without your agreement. First they need to give a valid reason – not just “COVID-19”. A worker whose earnings have been reduced without their consent can request assistance from the Employment Relations Authority. You can’t be told to take annual or sick leave to cover for a downturn in business caused by COVID-19. In relation to COVID this should include providing appropriate protective equipment and making sure you are physically spaced. Employees in negotiations with their employer about potential variations should consider and record in any concluded agreement on a variation matters such as: Remember, unless there is an agreed variation to your employment agreement, you have a continuing entitlement in accordance with your full entitlements under your employment agreement. They can’t tell you to “take it or leave it,” or threaten to fire you unless you agree. Meetings of half an hour as standard, one hour maximum, An alert like a text message rather than an email with urgent work so people are not having to constantly monitor email (or agree on a preferred communication style with employee). The first job of the day is to organise the room attendants scheduals and to organise who will be cleaning what rooms. This includes normal consultation timeframes and provision of information. And there are a series of downloadable fact sheets on employment-related issues and COVID-19 here. If you want to reduce an employee’s pay based on performance, it is recommended that you undertake a performance review and implement a performance management policy first. If you allow your employer to trim your pay once, you are effectively giving them permission to do so again. People can check their eligibility and apply online on the Work and Income website. Even if you are a casual workers still have rights. NZ. Authorised by NZCTU, Level 5, 178 Willis Street, Wellington. This means: Undertaking genuine consultation before the decision is made and not just approaching you after they make a decision. For example, if you’re only getting paid 80% of your regular income, you should only work 80% of your regular hours. Some contracts of employment contain a variation clause that can allow your employer to make changes to your contract. Generally, if an employment agreement sets the employee's hours of work, then an employer can’t change them without the employee's agreement. Can my employer roster me on at any time and day to make up my guaranteed hours? Employers and employees must discuss in good faith the implications of COVID-19 on their working arrangements. Answer: An employer is permitted to set hours of work and to make certain limited changes to your hours of work. Every employer, self-employed person, and earner pays an ACC levy to cover the cost of injuries under New Zealand’s accident compensation scheme. You can give your employees a range of hours to work within, and they can choose the actual hours … During the Government imposed COVID-19 lockdown, the Government has made a wage subsidy available that employers can apply for to assist them to meet their wages/salary obligations. You may wish to contact a Community Law Centre for advice or your union. However, if you are at home and not sick or caring for someone else, your employer can require you to work from home if that is possible. The wage subsidy is to help keep your income (not your employer’s). Does this mean that if your boss says, “I'm cutting your pay” that you can say, “No thanks, I'll continue at the higher rate of pay"? The length of time for this change must be stated in writing in the employment agreement variation. Insolvency and trustee services (external link), Download the template from Business.govt.nz, You must enable JavaScript to submit this form. If you are entitled to any redundancy entitlements, these will be found in your collective or individual employment agreements, or any other agreement you’ve made with employer. Employers can check their eligibility and apply online on the Work and Income website. The length of time for this change must be stated in the employment agreement variation. limiting the duration of the changes to the COVID-19 lockdown; whether all employees are offered the proposed changes; if the wages/salary is reduced, whether work hours should also reduced; what will be the process for employees to agree to the variation. Clear workplace policies and procedures support employment agreements and mean everyone knows how things are meant to be done. It is unlawful for an employer to ‘offer’ a variation on a take it or leave it basis. It involves treating others fairly using common sense. Workers seeking Information on corona virus and on all health aspects of the virus can find that on the website https://covid19.govt.nz/   The Ministry of Health’s website  is updated daily and contains the most up to date and comprehensive information about coronavirus including all the health and safety precaution for various groups of workers. However, if the employer went about offering employees the choice in a procedurally fair manner and could genuinely justify the cuts, they would be upheld legally. You should use sick leave only if you are sick. An employer can say that they are no longer able to employ people and they are going to make the redundant because of COVID-19, but there has to be a fair process for doing this. PSA: enquiries@psa.org.nz 0508 367 772 If my employer doesn’t provide enough work to fill my guaranteed hours do I get paid for them? Starting a new job is an exciting and challenging time. Employers must legally consider this in good faith. Before making a decision, which may result in employees losing their job, the employer must give the affected employees sufficient information to be able to understand the proposal and then give them a proper opportunity to comment. We are now running an active FAQ for employment issues related to COVID-19 on our Together website here. A very clear list of essential industries is available here. If you are working your normal hours while at home, the law says you have to be paid your normal wages or salary. If you have an individual contract, your employer must give you a copy of any changes they want to make and give you a chance to get advice from someone you trust. And they have to pay you for whatever notice period you have in you employment agreement (for example if they have to give two weeks notice, they have to pay you for two weeks from their final decision to make you redundant). Second you need to be given a reasonable chance to respond. Can my employer change my employment agreeement because of COVID-19? In these situations the employer must follow the usual process for workplace change, which includes giving the employee a fair opportunity to consider and respond to the proposed change. Having the agreed terms and conditions in writing is a legal requirement, whether the change is temporary or permanent. retain the employees named in their subsidy applications for the period they are receiving the subsidy, personal grievance for unjustified dismissal. Good faith means that you and your employer, as well as your union, must be honest with each other and actively communicate. Some employers are saying they are “suspending” their business to stop paying people. It will largely depend on the terms of your contract as to whether your employer can reduce your hours and pay. Contact the receiver for specific information about your situation if your employer has been put into receivership, or seek legal advice. Shortened processes must still occur in good faith and provide opportunity for workers to seek advice. In some situations, (such as genuine financial, commercial or economic problems, or genuine restructuring of the business), reducing an employee’s rate of pay may be put forward as an alternative to redundancy. A termination clause in an employment contract can limit the size of a severance package. As we are now in the COVID-19 recovery phase, normal consultation processes should be followed for any workplace changes proposed during the COVID-19 recovery period. Your employer may ask you to do a 90-day trial in a new job. Lawyer's Assistant: What steps have been taken so far? The Government has made it a condition of the subsidy that the employer must apply best efforts to continue to pay 80% of wages/salary while they are in receipt of the wages subsidy. You can also log health and safety issues onto the CTU web site: http://www.together.org.nz/covid-19-work-rights. If your employee does not meet these standards, you are able to raise a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal. If the employment agreement says that an employer can change the hours of work, the employer still has to act fairly and reasonably before they do. Any changes must be recorded in writing and signed by both parties, and the parties must be given reasonable time to consider the proposal. And it’s important to remember you keep your employees well informed during the process. Working from home does not require a new employment agreement and your employer can’t just make you sign one. If your employer tries to make you take annual or sick leave make it clear that they cannot legally do so. You can also log specific workplace problems that you are facing in relation to COVID-19 here. The government has been very clear – the subsidy goes to the employer but they must pass, If your employer is collecting the wage subsidy they can’t make you – or any other people at work – redundant. In particular, if your employer wants to make changes that would make it hard for you to carry on with your job, they have to give you all the information and give you the chance to have your say before they make their final decision. The Employment Relations Authority will ultimately decide whether the employer’s decision was one that a fair and reasonable employer could have made. Section 4 of the Employment Relations Act 2000. He says I have to re-apply for the position, if I am unsuccessful I will be offered redundancy. Keeping businesses viable and New Zealanders employed is one of the main priorities during these uncertain times. The best way to prevent and resolve relationship problems between employers and employees. If your employer alters your ordinary hours or roster without consent or discussion, and without the express right to do so under the contract, you may be able to claim constructive dismissal and/or damages for any loss suffered … No. This must be negotiated in good faith. Your employer can’t just change your employement agreement because of COVID19 or ever. If the employment agreement says that an employer can change the hours of work, the employer still has to act fairly and reasonably before they do. Don’t be taken advantage of. Employment laws still apply, and the receiver will be required to keep in regular contact with you and act in good faith. COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme – Work and Income (external link). Working as usual may be difficult for employers and employees due to the impacts of COVID-19. The employer is obliged to consult with employees and to consider their feedback. If you have a regular pattern of work over a period of time  – the law would say you are not a casual. Then your employer must listen and respond to any questions or issues you have. In addition, your employer should consider reasonable accommodations and other supports which might be needed to facilitate your working from home whilst caring for dependents such as, for example: For access to benefits and emergency assistance due to loss of employment, loss of employment hours, running out of sick leave, redundancies the Ministry of Social Development provides support. Though employers generally can reduce your hours, federal regulations prevent employers from doing so for certain reasons. If there’s not enough work for you, your employer might ask you not to come into work, or to take unpaid leave. Any reduction in hours below your normal level has to be done by agreement. You are not obliged to accept a variation to your contract however there may be consequences of not accepting a variation. The 1737 text line provides support. They took on a new person to cover the maternity leaver, I questioned this and was told they needed some one to cover odd days. Employers and employees may be considering changes that involve workplaces closing temporarily or reductions in hours. New legislation has been passed which could protect your business, allowing you to continue trading and keep your staff employed. The length of time for this change must be stated in writing in the employment agreement variation. My hours were reduced in jan with the promise they would return when business improved and I could pick up more hours when another member of staff went on maternity leave, I agreed to this. Can employees reduce … Find out about options to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 in the workplace. Your employer should access a wage subsidy on your behalf and pass it through to you. Any agreed changes must be recorded in writing and signed by both parties, and the employee must be given reasonable time to consider the proposal. Where changes to current working arrangements are proposed by an employer, there are specific good faith requirements that must be followed. This needs to be discussed in good faith. She also says your boss can't cut your pay without your agreement. If it doesn't, they can't do this without you agreeing first. If your employer takes any money out of your pay, while expecting you to work your normal hours, this would be against the Wages Protection Act 1983. I work in a hotel as a head housekeeper. What should happen when my employer applies for the COVID-19 wages subsidy? Employment agreement obligations are not varied by any of the current government schemes. They have to be done in “good faith” – you have to have a say, you need to be given time to consider them and seek advice and you can’t be threatened to accept any change (for example,” If you don’t to this, I will have to let you go”. That means: “Redundancy” is when your employer tells you they can no longer employ you and they are ending your employment agreement.Answer. If an employee is working (either from home, or at a workplace), then they must be paid for each and every hour that they work at their agreed wage rate. It is more than just following the letter of the law. This is a matter of agreement; it can not be imposed on you. We’ll do what we can to make the process as easy as possible for you. Sick leave is only to be used in the circumstances described in s65 of the Holidays Act: the employee, their spouse or partner, or person who depends on the employee is sick or injured. Can my employer make me use my sick leave or annual leave for COVID-19? There are some relief packages for business and individuals and increased support for those who have been impacted by COVID-19. Even if there is a clause like this in your contract, it does not remove the employer’s obligations under the law, including to consult with you in good faith about any changes to your contract. My employer is restructuring, has halved my hours and duties and changed the role title. Only employers with fewer than 20 employees can do this. If your employer has not engaged with you and ignored queries raised about your change of hours and roster it may be committing a breach of your employment agreement. Employers and employees may want flexible ways of working during this time (for example, staggering start times to avoid peak times for public transport). Employers should only use these clauses to vary a contract if they have a good reason, for example the business is struggling financially and needs to cut staff hours. Benefits and payments – Work and Income (external link). Wage subsidy schemes – Work and Income (external link). If your contract states your employer can amend any term of the contract, this may be far too wide–ranging and unspecific, so the employer could not change your contract without your agreement. What happens of my employers says I’m made redundant because of COVID-19? To help us improve GOV.UK, we’d like to know more about your visit today. If an employee thinks that the change to their hours is disadvantaging them and that the process the employer followed was unfair or there were no genuine reasons for changing the hours of work, an employee should first try to resolve the issue with their … It is important for you to understand the context of the COVID-19 wage subsidy. specifying a timeframe for the variation – ie. Most employment agreements  require the employer to provide work. If your business needs to cost-cut, you can offer your employees benefits to make up for reducing their wage. If you are on a zero-hours contract for example, there is unlikely to be any rights to be provided with work or pay (even in these circumstances, you should seek advice). Parties must not act in a misleading or deceptive way. However this may affect your entitlement to a redundancy payment. The wage subsidy schemes support employers and their staff who are financially impacted by COVID-19 to maintain an employment connection and ensure an income for affected employees. Call the health line 0800 3585453. What are my right in this situation, can he just reduce my hours to suit the business. Provide you with all relevant information about the proposal to make you redundant, Provide you the opportunity to properly consider this information, Allow you to have input into the decision-making process by allowing you to make proposals. ), So you can’t be given a new working from home employment agreement. This means that normal obligations to keep in regular contact and to act in good faith are more important than ever. The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme is available for employers, including sole traders, to pay their employees who can't work because the employee can't come into work as per Ministry of Health guidelines, which recommends they stay at home, and they are not able to work from home because of the nature of work. Editor: As it says above, you should be consulted on any change in the terms and conditions of your contract. If I am working my normal hours either at home or at an essential business, can my employer reduce my pay? AG - 30-Apr-18 @ 5:08 PM. If you are available to work – whether at home or not – people should either be fully paid or, if their employer is accessing the wage subsidy, their employer must make “best efforts” to fully pay them and should, at the very least, pay them the full amount of the subsidy. An employer cannot just declare themselves an essential industry and keep going. Instead of reducing your working hours your employer may make you redundant and offer you alternative work under a new contract of employment. This means employees – regardless of whether they are working from home, or from their workplace – must be paid at least the minimum wage, or more if the rate in their employment agreement is higher. Still haven't found what you're looking for? My employer says we are an essential industry. Can my employer reduce my wages because I’m working from home and looking after my children? Agreed periods where the employee is available and not available, this may mean accommodating for work being done in evenings. If your employer takes any money out of your pay, while expecting you to work your normal hours, this would be against the Wages Protection Act 1983. If you are carrying on as an essential industry or if you are working from home, your employer still has to consider your health and safety and take every step possible. For the reduction in working hours, employment law does require you to provide a legitimate reason. These changes require additional good faith or other process arrang… Can my employer reduce my hours? This includes: Employers and employees, and their representatives must discuss in good faith the implications of the COVID-19 response and recovery on their working arrangements. There will be cases in which workers may feel it appropriate to agree to changes (a variation) of their employment agreements to reduce wages or hours. The law says that any changes to employment agreements must be talked about and agreed in good faith. And is it just you or is it all staff? If you have any flu symptoms (cough, fever and breathing difficulties) do not delay – contact the health line team on 0800 358 5453. Complying with all obligations within contracts and enterprise agreements to consult about the redundancy, Taking an open mind to your proposals, being responsive and communicating with you through the process, Consider any reasonable opportunities for redeployment, If there is a vacant position that you are able to work – your employer must redeploy you to this position. The following factsheets are currently available: Further down this page you can also find information on welfare and benefits and your physical and mental health during the pandemic. complying with all minimum standards legislation and with the Employment Relations Act 2000. Yes, it’s legal—so long as you can justify your need to do so. Employers can only tell you to reduce your hours if it's already outlined in your contract saying that they can. They can’t keep you working in any capacity. Can my employer just stop paying me because of COVID-19? Your contract can’t lower or take away your rights under the law. This section provides help in some key areas. Employees become entitled to annual holidays, public holidays, sick leave, bereavement leave, parental leave and other types of leave as long as they meet certain conditions. Employers must retain the employees named in their subsidy applications for the period they are receiving the subsidy. If employees are facing difficulties (for example, where they have had a reduction in hours of work) they may also be able to access support from Work and Income. The essential health measures to reduce the spread of infection and eliminate corona virus are: If you are an essential worker there will be specific health and safety precaution in your workplace. During the COVID-19 response period, there may have been circumstances where consultation on changes could reasonably have been shortened if the employer genuinely needed to make rapid adjustments to cope with their circumstances. Any changes made need to be consulted on and agreed to by both parties. If you have a contract with your employer, as many freelancers and professionals do, reducing your hours of work may violate the terms of your contract. COVID-19 Income Relief Payment – Work and Income (external link). But in the circumstances this is something a lot of employers are doing to help manage their revenue loss. Yes, you must be paid for at least your guaranteed hours every pay period and any additional hours/overtime worked. Alternatively, employers may propose changes to work times or moving to shift work arrangements to manage physical distancing requirements. So you would have a right to continue being paid and an employer could not just terminate your employment because of COVID-19. Any changes made need to be agreed to by both parties. Some employers are saying COVID-19 is an “act of god” (other terms used include “frustration of contract” and “force majeure”) so they don’t have to follow your employment agreement. An employer cannot unilaterally change a fundamental term of employment without being at risk of a constructive dismissal claim. Not working because of a health condition or disability (includes no sick leave) –, The different costs for help with and what you can get –, Rent/board costs – Accommodation Supplement –. If the employee has agreed then this would be legal, but only if the … This means your employer will reduce your working hours, or your work days each week, on reduced pay. Each situation will be different depending on the nature of the company in receivership. These changes can be temporary or permanent. Employees can ask also to change their work arrangements, place, hours, or days. https://workandincome.govt.nz/eligibility/emergencies/2020/coronavirus.html, https://workandincome.govt.nz/eligibility/lost-job/health-condition.html, https://workandincome.govt.nz/eligibility/lost-job/index.html, https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/eligibility/lost-job/health-condition.html, https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/jobseeker-support.html, https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/online-services/apply/what-is-a-stand-down.html, https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/online-services/apply/online-application-process-mymsd.html, https://workandincome.govt.nz/eligibility/urgent-costs/index.html, https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/eligibility/urgent-costs/food.html, https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/accommodation-supplement.html, https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/housing/live-in-home/housing-costs/index.html, http://www.together.org.nz/covid-19-work-rights, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDUkmAdKsJE&feature=emb_title, https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/covid-19/top-tips-to-get-through/, https://www.health.govt.nz/news-media/news-items/need-talk-free-phone-or-text-1737. , such as resignation, retirement, dismissal or can my employer reduce my hours nz elements: good faith the. 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