The law says you must have a written employment agreement with all employees, keep a signed copy of them and also provide a signed copy to an employee who requests one.
If you don’t have an employment agreement then you risk disputes with your employees and could be regarded as encouraging unfair bargaining for which you have to pay financial penalties for breach of the Employment Relations Act. Further any arrangements about a trial period or fixed term employment could well be unenforceable.
You are required to advise employees in writing that they are entitled to get legal advice about the employment agreement and give them reasonable time to do so before they sign it. It is not reasonable to give them an agreement on Friday with Monday as the a start date.
You must also consider and respond to any issues with the agreement an employee raises.
If the intended agreement has not been signed or the employee has not agreed to the the terms specified in the agreement then the intended agreement will not be treated as the employee’s employment agreement. The best advice we can give is that you should ensure the agreement has been signed and returned before the start date and not first thing on the morning they start work.
We see many agreements that are badly designed. If you think “I’ll use the agreement I got off the internet” then think again. More often than not they do not match the actual conditions of work; and most do not help you manage the more difficult aspects of employment relationships and will become a cause of disputes. An excellent example of this problem is reported in our blog Christchurch Rebuild Companies are Falling Foul of Employment Law
In Kerr v Croisilles Oysters Ltd the company, as a seasonal employer, was faced with the situation where, immediately at the end of its shutdown period, it did not have enough product to employ all of its staff. It decided to recall staff in order of seniority. Ms Kerr was not one of the staff recalled. However, there was nothing in the agreement with Ms Kerr or other staff that allowed them to select staff on seniority. The Authority concluded that as there was work available they were obliged to offer it to Ms Kerr and were in breach of contract for not doing so and worse they had to pay her for that time.
How we can help
We will design an employment agreement that fits your business and operational needs and complies with New Zealand law.
Our employment agreements:
- Come in both an electronic and hard copy form;
- Link you to sites that allow you to quickly calculate PAYE, Public Holiday and Sick Leave pay;
- Are designed to be used for all types of employees including casual, temporary permanent part-time and full time;
- Have a plain language explanation of the terms running parallel to the terms themselves so that they are easily understood;
- Ensure both parties know exactly what is expected of them;
- Provide a process for managing employment relationship problems.
If you would like our help, this is the information we will need
- The legal name of your business e.g. personal name, company, trust, partnership.
- Your trading-name.
- Electronic copy of your business logo.
- Description of your business.
- Any existing agreement.
- The hours your business trades.
- Any terms and conditions you particularly need.
- Your contact details.