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Employment Law – Part 1

The area of Employment is a much vexed one. Once considered by many not to be a serious area of law it has grown into a much specialised field in its own right.

Irrespective of the Government in power they all recognise that employment is essential to a successful economy. It is the source of most of the population’s income and thus their ability to spend money, buy houses and enter into credit contracts. It also is a source of our feelings of self worth.

These matters are important to understand as this is the reason behind our current legislation and the reason why an employee is able to claim hurt and humiliation for a breach of their rights by an employer.

In addition, the concept that the employee is in an unfair bargaining position underlies many of the rights given to the employee and the often strict interpretation of those rights by the courts and Authority.

The area is thus too vast to adequately do justice to the field and any advise on the law could be misleading and deceptive if taken as the final say in the law. As well as this the law is still open to interpretation and thus advocates and lawyers become involved.

The Agreement

For an employer they must first and foremost realise that they are treated as being the “parent” in the relationship. Most of the obligations are on they to ensure compliance with the legislation.

The starting point is the requirement that the employment agreement must be in writing. There are penalties in the Act for breach, (currently at $20,000 for a company and $10, 000 for an individual). In addition many of the rights available to an employer, (trial periods, fixed term contracts, Casual contracts and “zero” hour contracts, to name a few) require that they be in writing at the very least.

It is recommended that an employer always meet with an employment specialist before entering or negotiating employment agreements. Many standard form agreements have been found by the Authority or Court to be deficient notwithstanding that the form may come from a government department. This is mainly due to the particular circumstances of the employment or that the matter is still up for interpretation by the court.

The cost of such an agreement is small compared to the potential consequences and the money riding on it.

What Next?

Part two of this blog covers off the different types of employment contracts and the benefits and pitfalls of them, plus a few of the choice clauses within the contracts that tend to come up as part of employment discussion.

If you have any questions at all about this toic, or require any assistance with employment law in general, please get in touch directly as per the details below. Michael McDonald Madeley Consulting 021 709 404

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