Articles: by Riki Donnelly

Mitigation & Contribution (Part 1)

For any employment dispute which proceeds to hearing (whether before the Employment Relations Authority or the Employment Court) two issues will always arise for any ex-employee seeking to establish a grievance for unjustified dismissal. Mitigation of lost wages and contribution.

Up until the end of last year there had been numerous comments by both the Authority and the Court about mitigation and contribution. However, there lacked a “watershed” decision which really brought together all the principles and clearly articulated how those issues need to be addressed. Thankfully, at least for those of us who practice in the employment law area, a single decision of the Employment Court has addressed both topics in depth.

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Volunteers – who are they and what should you be aware of?

A very recent decision by the Chief Judge of the Employment Court has been very useful at setting out the rules surrounding who is and who is not a volunteer for the purposes of assessing rights and obligations around minimum employment entitlements.

The case, which revolved around a camping ground in the Tauranga region, examined the status of a person who provided services to the owners of the camping ground in return for a very small cash payment and a waiver of camping fees.

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Government push to address pay equity

Considering New Zealand was the first country to extend the right to vote to women it is rather perplexing that such a prominent issue facing the country is the disparity in pay between the two genders. A simple google search makes it abundantly clear that the issue remains a significant one. Yet the problem remains.

In a potentially game-changing move, the government recently announced its decision to implement recommendations made by the joint working group on ay equity. This will see updates to the Equal Pay Act and the Employment Relations Act, creating a modern day process for women to have their claims of gender pay parity heard and assessed.

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Frustration in the Employment Setting

When you see the word frustration linked with discussions about employment law, thoughts may immediately turn to how tensions within the work place can often lead to frustrated individuals. These frustrations can in turn lead to “events”, and a whole lot of difficulty for both employers and employees. Whilst that may be the most common type of frustration found in the workplace there is another concept which can also rear its head.

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Does extra work require extra pay?

A vast number of employers remunerate their workers with a fixed salary. In doing so employers can create an agreement whereby they do not necessarily have to pay additional wages if an employee works additional hours. Generally speaking employment agreements with employees on a salary don’t require payment for “overtime”.

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