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. No. 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. Generally, if an employment agreement sets the employee's hours of work, then an employer can’t change them without the employee's agreement. 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. Any reduction in hours below your normal level has to be done by agreement. In some situations (such as genuine financial, commercial or economic problems, or genuine restructuring of the business), reducing an employee’s hours may be put forward as an alternative to redundancy. If you have a collective contract, your employer must negotiate any changes with your union. At Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC, we understand the challenges of going up against an employer. Contact the receiver for specific information about your situation if your employer has been put into receivership, or seek legal advice. If the employee has agreed then this would be legal, but only if the … Work environments are not static and employers can require employees to work outside of their regular working hours. You can also log health and safety issues onto the CTU web site: http://www.together.org.nz/covid-19-work-rights. https://www.health.govt.nz/news-media/news-items/need-talk-free-phone-or-text-1737. “Provided the employer follows a fair process and there is a genuine need to cost-cut, they can make employees redundant to … 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. 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. You should use sick leave only if you are sick. I work in a school kitchen - can my employers reduce my hours by nearly half but still expect the same level of work to be done. This is not generally true, unless there is a specific clause in your employment contract that allows for it. 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 … We are now running an active FAQ for employment issues related to COVID-19 on our Together website here. Generally entitlements will include notice or pay in lieu of notice and possibly redundancy pay. What happens of my employers says I’m made redundant because of COVID-19? Find out about options to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 in the workplace. You’ll also need to gain their agreement on the new hours you have. Make sure when you cough or sneeze cough and sneeze into your arm, use a tissue not your hand, and wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or using tissues. To help us improve GOV.UK, we’d like to know more about your visit today. This means: Undertaking genuine consultation before the decision is made and not just approaching you after they make a decision. It is important for you to understand the context of the COVID-19 wage subsidy. Can employees reduce … 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. The Government’s wage subsidy scheme will be a significant factor in the justification of a redundancy as there is an expectation that employers should access the subsidy before making workers redundant. There are several requirements on employers and safeguards against wrongful redundancies. 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. You are not obliged to accept a variation to your contract however there may be consequences of not accepting a variation. Your employer can cut back on your hours if it says they can in your contact. The Employment Relations Authority will ultimately decide whether the employer’s decision was one that a fair and reasonable employer could have made. My employer is restructuring, has halved my hours and duties and changed the role title. 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. Every employer, self-employed person, and earner pays an ACC levy to cover the cost of injuries under New Zealand’s accident compensation scheme. Even if you are a casual workers still have rights. Answer: An employer is permitted to set hours of work and to make certain limited changes to your hours of work. This means your employer will reduce your working hours, or your work days each week, on reduced pay. Second you need to be given a reasonable chance to respond. Employees who lose their job between 1 March and 30 October 2020 due to COVID-19 may be able to get the COVID-19 Income Relief Payment. Instead of reducing your working hours your employer may make you redundant and offer you alternative work under a new contract of employment. If it doesn't, they can't do this without you agreeing first. This section provides help in some key areas. 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. Can my employer reduce my hours? If an employer has been placed into receivership the receiver will have responsibility for decisions on running the business and this includes handling the business’s employment relationships. They must also follow a fair process in coming to the decision to make an employee redundant. The law says that any changes to employment agreements must be talked about and agreed in good faith. But in the circumstances this is something a lot of employers are doing to help manage their revenue loss. 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"? He says I have to re-apply for the position, if I am unsuccessful I will be offered redundancy. 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. Authorised by NZCTU, Level 5, 178 Willis Street, Wellington. These changes require additional good faith or other process arrang… 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. 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. Employers who need to reduce pay will have to secure their employee’s consent first before they can adjust remuneration. Starting a new job is an exciting and challenging time. Employers and employees need to work together to slow the spread of COVID-19, protect New Zealand and keep each other safe. That means: “Redundancy” is when your employer tells you they can no longer employ you and they are ending your employment agreement.Answer. This is a matter of agreement; it can not be imposed on you. And there are a series of downloadable fact sheets on employment-related issues and COVID-19 here. COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme – Work and Income (external link). What are my right in this situation, can he just reduce my hours to suit the business. You may wish to contact a Community Law Centre for advice or your union. Good faith includes the following three elements: Good faith is also wider than this. If you allow your employer to trim your pay once, you are effectively giving them permission to do so again. A worker whose earnings have been reduced without their consent can request assistance from the Employment Relations Authority. 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. First they need to give a valid reason – not just “COVID-19”. 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. 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). Your employer can’t just change your employement agreement because of COVID19 or ever. For example, if you’re only getting paid 80% of your regular income, you should only work 80% of your regular hours. 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. 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). 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. If there’s not enough work for you, your employer might ask you not to come into work, or to take unpaid leave. 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. Not quite, but what you can do—is quit—before you do any work at the offered lower rate of pay. Thirdly have to show “good faith” in the process – that is be open and honest about what they are doing and listen to what you have to say. All about pay, hours at work, record keeping and what breaks employees are entitled to. However, the employer’s application for, and the passing through of a wage subsidy, is a separate issue to your rights under your employment agreement. Section 4 of the Employment Relations Act 2000. When having discussions with your employer about proposed variations, employees should be careful not to make unnecessary concessions because in the circumstances of a substantial subsidy available to the employer, there is often less room for employers to argue that wages/hours be reduced. She also says your boss can't cut your pay without your agreement. They can’t keep you working in any capacity. It is more than just following the letter of the law. But, if you are being paid less you should work less. There may be situations where the employer is unable to do this but any reduction in pay to  a limit of $585.50 must be as a result of agreement between you and your employer. 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. The 1737 text line provides support. 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. The length of time for this change must be stated in the employment agreement variation. Looking after our own mental health and wellness is vitally important as we face these unprecedented times with new demands whether you be at home or an essential worker. Most employment agreements  require the employer to provide work. 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. Employers can only tell you to reduce your hours if it's already outlined in your contract saying that they can. If your business needs to cost-cut, you can offer your employees benefits to make up for reducing their wage. Insolvency and trustee services (external link), Download the template from Business.govt.nz, You must enable JavaScript to submit this form. Some employers and employees may agree to a reduction in hours during the COVID-19 Alert Levels. 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. If I am working my normal hours either at home or at an essential business, can my employer reduce my pay? Depending on the circumstances the receiver may cancel your existing employment agreement, or they may offer you a new employment agreement with different conditions. ), So you can’t be given a new working from home employment agreement. For example, you can offer them reduced hours or increased annual leave entitlements. 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. Guidance for Trade Unions as an essential service. Shortened processes must still occur in good faith and provide opportunity for workers to seek advice. Unfortunately, employers can, in most cases, cut your pay or reduce your hours since most employees are "hired at will." 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? 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). Some employers have tried to claim that the COVID-19 situation is an “Act of God” or “Force Majeure” that allows them to change or cancel contracts. There are several ways in which employment relationships may be ended, such as resignation, retirement, dismissal or redundancy. This article describes the various schemes available. An employer cannot just declare themselves an essential industry and keep going. You always have the right to stop work if you believe it is unsafe. This video has some simple strong and well-presented messages:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDUkmAdKsJE&feature=emb_title, The Mental Health Foundation has specific tips for looking after your mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19 and getting through based on the five ways of wellbeing: https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/covid-19/top-tips-to-get-through/, For people who battle with mental health issues it is a super stressful time as people deal with loss of contacts, medication worries, anxiety and new or increased symptoms of mental distress. If your employer tries to make you take annual or sick leave make it clear that they cannot legally do so. Employers and employees may want flexible ways of working during this time (for example, staggering start times to avoid peak times for public transport). 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. An employer can’t change the job description of an employee without the employee’s agreement. 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. The wage subsidy is to help keep your income (not your employer’s). Your employer has to keep honouring your employment agreement. I work in a hotel as a head housekeeper. 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. In relation to COVID this should include providing appropriate protective equipment and making sure you are physically spaced. It will largely depend on the terms of your contract as to whether your employer can reduce your hours and pay. Or ring your GP but do not turn up to your GP unannounced – they will arrange an alternative way for you to be assessed or seen. This could be a temporary change until the employee can resume their existing job. Where changes to current working arrangements are proposed by an employer, there are specific good faith requirements that must be followed. 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. Lay-offs. An employer cannot unilaterally change a fundamental term of employment without being at risk of a constructive dismissal claim. Good faith is a legal requirement in Section 4 of the Employment Relations Act 2000. Employment agreement obligations are not varied by any of the current government schemes. Please note that this content will change over time and may be out of date. ® Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Calculating payments for holidays & leave, Psychometric testing and assessment centres, Things an employment agreement must contain, Offering and negotiating employment agreements, Code of good faith in collective bargaining, Local council Easter Sunday shop trading policies, Problems getting domestic violence rights, Leave and pay entitlements during COVID-19, COVID-19: Guidance for payroll professionals, Employment New Zealand's approach to COVID-19, COVID-19 Workers and Workplaces Assistance Fund, Public, sick, bereavement, alternative pay, Changes to tax legislation for employee share schemes, Holiday and leave entitlement and payment ‘must-knows’, Positive conversations and reaching agreement, What are ethical and sustainable work practices, Demand for ethical and sustainable work practices, End-to-end assurance systems and processes, Identify and minimise labour rights issues, Assessing the impact of structure change on jobs, Restructuring when a business is sold or transferred, The benefits of being a disability confident organisation, Plan to become a disability confident organisation, Disability information and resources for employers, Resources and government support for disabled employees and jobseekers, Employers who breached employment standards, COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme – Work and Income, COVID-19 Income Relief Payment – Work and Income, Applying for employment relations education course approval, Wage subsidy and Leave Support: Complaints about employers, Calculating payments for holidays and leave, Employer's approach to assuring ethical and sustainable work practices, Franchisor's approach to assuring ethical and sustainable work practices, Recruiters and employment brokers approach to assuring ethical and sustainable work practices, having a written employment agreement for every employee, and doing what that agreement requires, keeping each written employment agreement up to date, including documenting any changes that affect rates of pay or hours worked, meeting legislative and any relevant contractual requirements for changing employment arrangements. A termination clause in an employment contract can limit the size of a severance package. Employers must legally consider this in good faith. 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. COVID-19 Income Relief Payment – Work and Income (external link). However, employees should be paid at their contracted rate, for each and every hour they work regardless of the Alert Level unless otherwise negotiated in good faith, which can never be below the minimum wage. What you can do is ensure your employer has confirmed (in writing) that the reduction is temporary. This is not true. 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. Do not go out if you are unwell– even in the same home – stay away from others if you are unwell. My employer says we are an essential industry. Dealing with COVID-19 is stressful for people’s mental health. Any agreed change to the employment agreement should be recorded in writing. Parties should discuss these matters and agree to arrangements in good faith. Parties must not act in a misleading or deceptive way. This needs to be discussed in good faith. You can also log specific workplace problems that you are facing in relation to COVID-19 here. However this may affect your entitlement to a redundancy payment. 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 work isn’t essential you should be staying home. Ultimately you are stuck between a rock and a hard place—your employer does not need your permission to reduce your wage and the choice to treat it as a dismissal may not be a choice at all. Your contract can’t lower or take away your rights under the law. 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 –. This could be a temporary or permanent reduction. Can my employer make me use my sick leave or annual leave for COVID-19? This is legal and may make the most sense for you if your employer tries to cut your … Your employer may want to vary your employment agreements. It is unlawful for an employer to ‘offer’ a variation on a take it or leave it basis. retain the employees named in their subsidy applications for the period they are receiving the subsidy, personal grievance for unjustified dismissal. Business has now improved and they have taken on 2 more people and my hours … What about workplace health and safety and COVID-19? Can my employer reduce my wages because I’m working from home and looking after my children? 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. Agreed periods where the employee is available and not available, this may mean accommodating for work being done in evenings. Yes, it’s legal—so long as you can justify your need to do so. Employers must retain the employees named in their subsidy applications for the period they are receiving the subsidy. These levies can be a significant business cost, but there are ways of reducing them. Why? This includes normal consultation timeframes and provision of information. Regular employment law still applies to all employment relationships – regardless of the circumstances that we find ourselves in. 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