Tag Archive for: employment

Parry Field Lawyers has expanded its offering to clients with the opening of a fourth office and a return to the Christchurch CBD, for the first time since the 2011 February earthquake.

It’s nearly 12 years to the day since our team, along with others, were trapped on the upper floors of the 17-storey Forsyth Barr building in Colombo Street and had to be rescued by crane.

The new offices on the first level of the PWC Tower in Cashel Street have been officially opened by Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger, who thanked the firm for its ongoing commitment to Christchurch and in particular for the decision to return to the heart of the city.

“It’s investment by businesses like yours that help drive our economy and support the community,” he said. “Thanks for all the work you do as a legal team to remove barriers and find solutions for your clients.”

The Mayor also congratulated Parry Field on the choice of location by the Bridge of Remembrance. The building at 60 Cashel Street was one of the first significant rebuilds after the earthquake and was designed to 130% of the Building Code.

“It’s a great example of the determination to build better – to create work environments that are safer, stronger, and smarter.”

Parry Field’s Chair, Kris Morrison, formally welcomed the Mayor and guests to the opening, saying the partners are very thankful to all those who have been clients, advisors, friends and supporters of the business over many years.

“It’s a significant moment for us to re-opening city offices.  Up until 22 February in 2011 Parry Field had had offices in the Christchurch CBD continuously from or very close after its original founding in 1948.”

He recalled the moment the earthquake struck; looking from the 15th floor at the huge cloud of dust coming over the city and the wait, eventually being rescued by crane.

“Looking over the edge of the balcony, we had some trepidation about climbing over and into the crane basket, but when it arrived, we climbed in. The trip to the ground was surprisingly quick and smooth. It felt as comfortable as an ordinary lift ride.”

Thinking back to that day and the loss and damage in the earthquakes, he said it is encouraging to see what progress there has been. “It has been exciting to see the return of business and life to the central city over the last few years in particular, and it is exciting to be joining that return ourselves.”

Opening a fourth office is also a reflection of the growth the firm has experienced – from a team of 25 staff a decade ago, to more than 80 now, including an office in Riccarton, and regional offices in the Selwyn district and on the West Coast in Hokitika.

“One key principle for us as a law firm is that we always want to be and feel accessible to our clients. We want them to feel that they can call on us at any time.  For many of our clients our Riccarton offices are convenient, but a significant number of our clients and the other professionals that we work with, are now based in the CBD, so we trust that it will be helpful for them that we are once again back in the heart of the city.”

He thanked those involved in fitting out the premises including architect Malcolm Orr and Project Manager, Russell Hatcher. “We love the way the offices have come together.”

Further information: Lawyers rescued from earthquake-damaged tower’s top floor move back to town | Stuff.co.nz

The festive season is underway and with it come the Christmas work parties that are a great way to celebrate a successful year and thank your employees.

But there are risks for employers at Christmas work events, especially where alcohol will be served.

It’s important that you are aware that you may be liable under Health and Safety legislation, even if the work party is held off-site.

What the legislation covers

Employers are required to provide employees with a safe workplace, protecting them against harm.

The Act is clear that employers must, “so far as is reasonably practicable” ensure that the health and safety of employees is not put at risk.

In the case of a work party where alcohol is being served, there is increased potential for that to affect someone’s behaviour and put others at risk.

For more information on the steps you might need to take,  refer to our article on this issue or get in touch with one of the Parry Field Lawyers Employment Team.

Much like a criminal investigation, when an employment matter is raised in a workplace, every case is different – and the approach to solving each matter will be different too.

Understanding when it’s best to have an independent investigation or just have one of your own team ask a few questions can make all the difference to the outcome and speed of resolution.

Trust and confidence in the investigation process is key for employers, who will need to manage perception of fairness not only by the parties involved but the wider team, and potentially other external stakeholders.

Typically, investigations will be necessary when an employer receives a complaint or has concerns about bullying, sexual harassment, or other misconduct.

Calling in independent assistance may be the wisest course of action for several reasons, including the nature and volume of allegations made, or who any the allegations are made against.

Employers often won’t have the time or expertise to investigate to the level that might be required, or to provide a line of sight to all potential legal risks in any course of action.

Workplace investigations – what to expect

Once an independent investigation starts, terms of reference will usually be drafted as a first step. This might seem a formal process, but these are important as they provide a ‘road map’ for any investigation. They’ll set out things like how the investigation is to be approached, scope of the enquiries, how interviews will be held and timeframes.

The investigator would then meet the complainant, respondents or any other witnesses to interview them and understand the key relevant information.  A written report would then be drawn up with findings and recommendations to provide confidence in the next steps.

Adding value

One other valuable aspect of an investigator’s role during employment investigations is to guard against accusations of bias. Using someone independent to complete an investigation means you can demonstrate objectivity, which sometimes just isn’t possible with internal investigations.

Legal specialists can also offer expertise in some of the more specialised areas of employment law, such as bullying, harassment and sexual harassment, dedication to client service, professionalism, integrity and commitment to community.

Further information:  parryfield.com/employment

New Zealand’s Employment Relations Act 2000 is designed to recognise and address the perceived inherent imbalance of power in the employment relationship by promoting collective organisation of employees and collective bargaining, through unions.

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New Zealand’s Employment Relations Act 2000 aims to build productive employment relationships through the promotion of mutual trust and confidence in all aspects of the employment environment.

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Given the lack of comprehensive research into “Workplace bullying”, it is difficult to assess the existence and/or prevalence of this phenomenon in New Zealand workplaces.

Statutory recognition and protection from workplace bullying is limited to provisions in New Zealand’s Health and Safety and Employment Act 1992.

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When an employer is considering making an employee(s) redundant or restructuring job positions, it is important that an employer shows good faith to its employees. The employer needs to ensure that the redundancy is genuine and must follow the correct process when carrying out either the redundancy or restructuring.


Reasons For Redundancies Must Be Genuine

Redundancies are a matter of managerial prerogative. The Court cannot question the commercial wisdom of a decision to create redundancies.  Rather, the issue is whether the redundancy is genuinely the reason for terminating the employment.

A redundancy is genuine if it is made for genuine commercial reasons.  Factors that may suggest that a redundancy is not genuine include;

  • Having job positions after the restructuring which are substantially the same as the previous positions, but may just have a different job title;
  • Hiring someone shortly after the redundancy for the same position that has been made redundant;
  • Where the redundancy is not the real reason for the dismissal – a redundancy is
    sometimes used as a camouflage to dismiss a worker for another reason e.g. poor performance or misconduct.

It is important that an employer keeps a clear paper trail of the background to the decision to restructure the business or make employees redundant.  These could be board or management meeting notes, letters to employees, financial records or any other documentation that may show that the redundancy was genuine.

Redundancy Process Must Be Procedurally Fair

Not only does the redundancy have to be genuine, but it must be carried out in a procedurally fair way. Under the Employment Relations Act 2000, it is part of an employer’s good faith obligation that when they are proposing to make a decision that will or is likely to have an adverse effect on the continuation of employment for 1 or more employees, the employer must provide the affected employees access to information relevant to the continuation of the employee’s employment and an opportunity to comment on the information before the decision is made.  Consultation with employees prior to the decision being made is an important part of this process.

The requirements of procedural fairness will depend on the size and nature of the business, but will usually require the following aspects;

  • Providing notice of the possible redundancy.
  • Consulting with staff who could be affected and giving them an opportunity to suggest any alternatives to redundancy.  This could involve options such as redeployment, job sharing or working part-time.
  • If the employer is intending to go through a selection process to decide which
    employees will be made redundant, an employer must adopt a fair basis for this selection policy and advise employees of how this decision will be made.  This could involve advising of what the selection criteria are, details of the positions available, information on who will be making the decision and a timeline for this process.
  • The employer must genuinely consider any options put forward by the employees during consultation prior to making a decision to dismiss.  The decision should not be pre-determined and should be free from bias.
  • Once the decision has been made, this needs to be communicated to the affected employees.  Pursuant to the employer’s duty of good faith, the employee needs to be given reasonable notice of their last working day.  Contractual notice periods need to be considered as part of this. There may also be an obligation on an employer to provide other practical assistance such as offering counselling, providing a work reference and assisting the employee in finding other employment.

Redundancies Where Business Sold

If a business is being sold or transferred, generally the provisions of an employee’s employment agreement must be followed. However, if the business has employees who work in the cleaning and food catering services at any workplace; laundry services for the education, health or age related sector; orderly services for the health or age-related sector; or caretaking services for the education sector, there are special rules that apply to them.  They have a right, inter alia, to choose whether to transfer on the sale of the business to the new employer.


This article is not a substitute for legal advice and you should talk to a lawyer about your specific situation. Should you need any assistance with this, or with any other Employment matters, please contact Hannah Carey at Parry Field Lawyers (348-8480) or hannahcarey@parryfield.com

Although there is no minimum code as such in New Zealand Employment Law, there are certain rights that all New Zealand employers must honour in relation to their employees.

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This is our third blog on employment law issues for those affected by the Christchurch Earthquake.  We answer the question:

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This blog continues with our series of blogs on the legal consequences of the Christchurch Earthquake by our qualified New Zealand Lawyers.

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