Some employers breaking law

GISBORNE employers are breaking the law if they are denying workers their entitlement to a written employment agreement.

“When there is no written employment agreement, employees are vulnerable to being treated badly by their employer,” said Robyn Stuart-Kohn of Gisborne Citizens Advice Bureau.

“When people come to us with an employment question, and they don’t have a written employment agreement, they can feel very insecure.

“People are dependent on keeping their jobs in order to feed their families and pay the rent, so they are often reluctant to rock the boat, even though they are aware that what their employer is doing is wrong,” Ms Stuart-Kohn said.

“The worst thing is that this is happening more and more."

From an average of 140 employment queries a year, the number has risen to more than 190 in the past year.

The Citizens Advice Bureau has just published a report about clients from across the country who are seeking help and do not have a written employment agreement.

“It paints an alarming picture of employees who are in unsecure situations at work. Unfortunately, our area is no exception,” she said.

As well as the absence of an employment agreement, employee issues have included dismissal without the proper process taking place and being paid less than the minimum wage.

The CAB is calling on all employers, regardless of the size of their business, to make sure they understand their obligations to their staff.

“If you don’t know what’s legally required of you as an employer, it’s important to find out. There is plenty of information and support available to help you,” Ms Stuart-Kohn said.

“Having a written employment agreement makes life easier for employers as well as employees.”

The CAB is available to help you whether you are an employer or an employee.

“If you want to find out about your rights or responsibilities you can give us a call on 0800 367 222, check online at www.cab.org.nz or pop into the CAB. No appointment is necessary,” she said.

“Ultimately we hope that employers in our community will act within the law and start by making sure every employee has a written employment agreement.”

GISBORNE employers are breaking the law if they are denying workers their entitlement to a written employment agreement.

“When there is no written employment agreement, employees are vulnerable to being treated badly by their employer,” said Robyn Stuart-Kohn of Gisborne Citizens Advice Bureau.

“When people come to us with an employment question, and they don’t have a written employment agreement, they can feel very insecure.

“People are dependent on keeping their jobs in order to feed their families and pay the rent, so they are often reluctant to rock the boat, even though they are aware that what their employer is doing is wrong,” Ms Stuart-Kohn said.

“The worst thing is that this is happening more and more."

From an average of 140 employment queries a year, the number has risen to more than 190 in the past year.

The Citizens Advice Bureau has just published a report about clients from across the country who are seeking help and do not have a written employment agreement.

“It paints an alarming picture of employees who are in unsecure situations at work. Unfortunately, our area is no exception,” she said.

As well as the absence of an employment agreement, employee issues have included dismissal without the proper process taking place and being paid less than the minimum wage.

The CAB is calling on all employers, regardless of the size of their business, to make sure they understand their obligations to their staff.

“If you don’t know what’s legally required of you as an employer, it’s important to find out. There is plenty of information and support available to help you,” Ms Stuart-Kohn said.

“Having a written employment agreement makes life easier for employers as well as employees.”

The CAB is available to help you whether you are an employer or an employee.

“If you want to find out about your rights or responsibilities you can give us a call on 0800 367 222, check online at www.cab.org.nz or pop into the CAB. No appointment is necessary,” she said.

“Ultimately we hope that employers in our community will act within the law and start by making sure every employee has a written employment agreement.”

If you are an employer, the CAB has some basic tips that can help you comply with the law and avoid getting a fine from the Labour inspectorate:

1. You must agree to, and sign, an employment agreement with every single one of your employees before they start work with you.

2. It’s easy to write an employment agreement — use the employment agreement builder tool on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website https://eab.business.govt.nz/.

3. Your employees have a right to a copy of their employment agreement. Make this part of your routine for new employees.

4. New Zealand employment law provides some minimum rights for employees. Using the employment agreement builder will help you meet these rights, which will save stress, loss of good workers and costly conflict when things go wrong.

5. Young people and people who are new to New Zealand have just as much right to be treated fairly as anyone else.

6. Sometimes your business needs change, but you cannot change an employee’s hours or their role without their agreement. Talk to your employees, listen respectfully to their perspective and problem-solve together.

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