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Frequently asked questions
Do I have to give my employees breaks?
Rest breaks benefit employers by ensuring that employees are refreshed, safe and productive. Failing to provide breaks could be a health and safety issue. An employer must pay an employee for rest breaks but meal breaks may be unpaid. Legislation sets down an employee's minimum entitlement to breaks and if these cannot be agreed upon between an employee and employer, then the employer should provide breaks at regular intervals, where practicable. If it is genuinely not practicable to provide breaks you may be able to compensate employees instead, however we recommend seeking advice on this.
When is an employee 'casual'? Do they still get sick leave, public holidays and leave?
A casual employee has no guaranteed hours of work, no regular pattern of work, and no ongoing expectation of employment. They can decline any shifts offered. They still receive annual leave, public holiday pay and in many cases sick leave. Their contract must state that they are casual employees.
What's the difference between an employee and a contractor?
An employee works for you, a contractor is in business for themselves. A contractor is not an employee, however in some cases they may be 'dependent contractors' where they are seen to have the same rights as an employee.
An employee raised a grievance. What happens now?
Depending on what the grievance relates to you may wish to attempt to resolve this informally or attend mediation. If you decline mediation, or it is unsuccessful, the employee can apply to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA). They are able to determine the outcome of their grievance.
I have a difficult employee? How do I deal with this? Can I just sack them?
Depending on what makes this employee difficult, you may like to attempt to provide some feedback or invite them to a formal meeting. Whatever you do, you should always follow good process and ensure you are acting fairly and in good faith. You cannot terminate an employee without following the appropriate process.
An employee said they're being bullied? How do I know its really bullying?
Bullying can be defined as 'repeated, unreasonable behaviour'. If there has been an allegation of bullying, it is important that you deal with this. One solution might be to attempt to mediate between the employees, coach the manager on their leadership style or to remove the problem by separating them. Each situation is different.
If in doubt, seek advice.
This is designed to briefly answer some common questions. Situations can be complex and this is by no means exhaustive. We always recommend seeking advice about your specific situation.
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