Marion from Write is a human resource and health and safety support service for small businesses here in Omokoroa. Primarily, she ensures HR and H&S processes comply with NZ Employment law and the HSWA (Health and Safety at Work Act).
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions she receives from her clients.
Q: Can I suspend an employee?
A: Yes. However, only in limited circumstances. Where an employee’s behaviour is under disciplinary investigation, having them present in the workplace may cause additional issues. For example, if an employee is suspected of pilferage or fraud, to protect the workplace they may need to be removed from the workplace during the investigation. Also, where an employee poses a risk to health and safety. An example of this would be if the employee works in a safety sensitive area (such a driving) and is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or is not in a fit emotional state to do their job safely, suspension can be considered. Including a clause in the employment agreement or having a workplace policy that covers suspension is good practice. It is possible to suspend without a clause or policy. However, it can be difficult. Any suspension should be on full pay unless a suspension clause/policy specifically provides for suspension without pay.
Q: Do I need to provide a job description when I advertise a vacancy?
A: No, you don’t. The minimum you can provide is the employment agreement must have a description of the work. However, you are more likely to find the best candidate if you and the applicants have a clear idea of what the job involves and what type of skills, experience and attributes you are looking for.
Q: When employing, what question should I always ask referees?
A: I always ask candidates to provide a referee who they have reported to in the past. Assuming the referee is a past employer or manager, I aways ask – ‘given the right circumstances, would you re-hire the candidate?’
Q: I reprimanded an employee once, for arriving late to work on more than one occasion. Does that constitute bullying?
A: No, a single or occasional incident of insensitive or rude behaviour towards another person isn’t considered workplace bullying, but it could become serious and should not be ignored. Workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or group of workers that can cause physical or mental harm. Bullying can be physical, verbal, psychological or social and may include victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening a person or group.
Q: Should a resignation be in writing?
A: A resignation can be verbal. However, should be followed up in writing stating the period of notice, which will be in the employment agreement, and the final day of work. This ensures both parties are clear on time frames and dates plus final pays can be prepared in a timely manner.
If you are unsure about an HR or H&S process or procedure, it is best practice to consult an HR expert. Because nobody wants a nasty surprise popping up in the form of a costly personal grievance. NZ Employment Law and the HSWA can be time-consuming minefields. Working with an HR expert is a cost-effective method of minimising risk.
Marion has 25 years’ experience in HR (including payroll) and health and safety. Need help with an issue? Contact Marion at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her website.
If you are unsure about an HR or H&S process or procedures, it is best practice to consult an HR expert, because nobody wants a nasty surprise popping up in the form of a costly personal grievance. NZ Employment Law and the HSWA can be time-consuming minefields. Working with an HR expert is a cost-effective method of minimising risk.