Employment Article

Below are some questions/answers that we’re hearing frequently in the uncertain times that we live in at the moment from both employers and employees.

Can my employer make me take annual leave?
With the business operating restrictions due to Covid-19 some employees have been told that they must take annual leave.  This practice is likely to be illegal if the leave is forced on the employee.  If the parties agree between themselves to take annual leave without any undue pressure from the employer, then there is unlikely to be any issues.

It is important to know that an employer cannot put any pressure on the employee to either take or cash up any holiday leave.

Can my employer make me take a pay cut?
The short answer is no they cannot.  The Wages Protection Act requires employers to pay their employees their full agreed rate per their employment agreement without deduction.  However, the parties can agree between themselves to modify that remuneration and those negotiations must be conducted in good faith.  During the Covid-19 lockdown most parties agreed to take a pay cut to ensure the businesses survived.  While no one is under an obligation to take the pay cut an employee would be wise to consider the business implications and whether that will force the business into looking at a redundancy or restructure the role into a lower pay rate for the position in order to survive.

Can my employer reduce my hours?
As with all employment agreements one party cannot just vary the terms without agreement from both parties.  The reduction in hours must be agreed to or it will be considered a breach of the terms of the employment agreement.

Can my employer force me to work from home?
The place of work is normally included in the employment agreement.  As above the short answer is that the change in location must also be agreed to between the parties.  The exception to this is when the Government requires businesses to work remotely; when this occurs those that are capable of working remotely from home must do so.  A refusal to work remotely if you are able to do so is also considered a breach of the employment agreement and your employer is entitled to mark you as absent and not pay you for the days not worked.

What should I do if I am having problems?
Discuss the issue between yourselves, an open and honest conversation can remedy a lot of these issues and there will be no need to go any further.  If this doesn’t help, then please take advantage of our free 30-minute consultation offer. Please contact: either shannon@corelegal.co.nz or jonathan@corelegal.co.nz.



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