The 2016 amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 introduced rules around when and how an availability provision can be included in an employment agreement. However there has been uncertainty as to how broadly the rules could be applied. The case of Fraser v McDonald’s Restaurants (NZ) Limited  was the first landmark case to assess whether availability provision rules were engaged or infringed. Since then there has been debate over whether these rules apply to just ‘zero hours’ workers and or whether they apply to all employees.
In our everyday work it is still a common occurrence for us to see employees who do not have written employment agreements and employers who have not provided written employment agreements to their staff. We also from time to time see of employment agreements that are outdated or contain illegal provisions .
The prevalence of those suffering from mental health issues in New Zealand has been a huge focus in the media this year. This has been further highlighted by the current governments review and subsequent promise to do more in this area with subsequent policy changes imminent. Naturally this issue flows into the workplace (given people spend over 60% of their time at work). Employers need to take mental health issues of employees very seriously. Further in order to discharge their health and safety duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSAW) employers are now having to ensure the psychosocial safety (not just physical safety) for those in the workplace.
Esther Perel, an eminent writer and psychotherapist who has achieved huge popularity from her last two books and TED talks about relationships, had a few interesting observations to make when she went on a recent trip to Cuba. Cuba has one of the highest divorce rates in Latin America with 70% of marriages expected to end in divorce. It is a society where no one accrues wealth or owns property or things, so it’s much easier to separate – as there is no division of belongings and generally people don’t stay together because of the lifestyle or economic support that the relationship brings. In Cuba, marital relationships emphasise emotional fulfillment and minimal economic reliance. “If one is not met emotionally, why be married?” said one of the local female psychologists.
It has become increasingly difficult for first home buyers to enter the property market in New Zealand. The amount of deposit required in most regions has increased significantly, with house prices growing at a fast rate in comparison to peoples’ incomes. Banks have put tighter controls on low deposit lending and a flow on effect is large numbers of first home buyers purchasing properties with the help of their parents. This is usually by them either acting as a guarantor on the mortgage or advancing funds as a gift or a loan to help with the deposit.