The essential health measures to reduce the spread of infection and eliminate corona virus are: If you are an essential worker there will be specific health and safety precaution in your workplace. My employer is restructuring, has halved my hours and duties and changed the role title. This includes normal consultation timeframes and provision of information. Employers who need to reduce pay will have to secure their employee’s consent first before they can adjust remuneration. An employer cannot just declare themselves an essential industry and keep going. People can check their eligibility and apply online on the Work and Income website. Some employers have tried to claim that the COVID-19 situation is an “Act of God” or “Force Majeure” that allows them to change or cancel contracts. Alternatively, employers may propose changes to work times or moving to shift work arrangements to manage physical distancing requirements. The employer must follow a process to reach agreement with employees. For example, you can offer them reduced hours or increased annual leave entitlements. There are some relief packages for business and individuals and increased support for those who have been impacted by COVID-19. Some employers are saying COVID-19 is an “act of god” (other terms used include “frustration of contract” and “force majeure”) so they don’t have to follow your employment agreement. Employees in negotiations with their employer about potential variations should consider and record in any concluded agreement on a variation matters such as: Remember, unless there is an agreed variation to your employment agreement, you have a continuing entitlement in accordance with your full entitlements under your employment agreement. Before making a decision, which may result in employees losing their job, the employer must give the affected employees sufficient information to be able to understand the proposal and then give them a proper opportunity to comment. Editor: As it says above, you should be consulted on any change in the terms and conditions of your contract. Clear workplace policies and procedures support employment agreements and mean everyone knows how things are meant to be done. Sick leave is only to be used in the circumstances described in s65 of the Holidays Act: the employee, their spouse or partner, or person who depends on the employee is sick or injured. Generally entitlements will include notice or pay in lieu of notice and possibly redundancy pay. For the reduction in working hours, employment law does require you to provide a legitimate reason. Employers and employees may want flexible ways of working during this time (for example, staggering start times to avoid peak times for public transport). Your employer can’t change your contract without your agreement. They can’t tell you to “take it or leave it,” or threaten to fire you unless you agree. In these situations the employer must follow the usual process for workplace change, which includes giving the employee a fair opportunity to consider and respond to the proposed change. And they have to pay you for whatever notice period you have in you employment agreement (for example if they have to give two weeks notice, they have to pay you for two weeks from their final decision to make you redundant). Good faith includes the following three elements: Good faith is also wider than this. A termination clause in an employment contract can limit the size of a severance package. The decision to make an employee redundant must be one that a fair and reasonable employer could make in the circumstances. If you have a contract with your employer, as many freelancers and professionals do, reducing your hours of work may violate the terms of your contract. Ultimately you are stuck between a rock and a hard place—your employer does not need your permission to reduce your wage and the choice to treat it as a dismissal may not be a choice at all. If an employer has been placed into receivership the receiver will have responsibility for decisions on running the business and this includes handling the business’s employment relationships. ® Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Calculating payments for holidays & leave, Psychometric testing and assessment centres, Things an employment agreement must contain, Offering and negotiating employment agreements, Code of good faith in collective bargaining, Local council Easter Sunday shop trading policies, Problems getting domestic violence rights, Leave and pay entitlements during COVID-19, COVID-19: Guidance for payroll professionals, Employment New Zealand's approach to COVID-19, COVID-19 Workers and Workplaces Assistance Fund, Public, sick, bereavement, alternative pay, Changes to tax legislation for employee share schemes, Holiday and leave entitlement and payment ‘must-knows’, Positive conversations and reaching agreement, What are ethical and sustainable work practices, Demand for ethical and sustainable work practices, End-to-end assurance systems and processes, Identify and minimise labour rights issues, Assessing the impact of structure change on jobs, Restructuring when a business is sold or transferred, The benefits of being a disability confident organisation, Plan to become a disability confident organisation, Disability information and resources for employers, Resources and government support for disabled employees and jobseekers, Employers who breached employment standards, COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme – Work and Income, COVID-19 Income Relief Payment – Work and Income, Applying for employment relations education course approval, Wage subsidy and Leave Support: Complaints about employers, Calculating payments for holidays and leave, Employer's approach to assuring ethical and sustainable work practices, Franchisor's approach to assuring ethical and sustainable work practices, Recruiters and employment brokers approach to assuring ethical and sustainable work practices, having a written employment agreement for every employee, and doing what that agreement requires, keeping each written employment agreement up to date, including documenting any changes that affect rates of pay or hours worked, meeting legislative and any relevant contractual requirements for changing employment arrangements. The Government’s wage subsidy scheme will be a significant factor in the justification of a redundancy as there is an expectation that employers should access the subsidy before making workers redundant. There are instances where an employer in Ontario may be able to reduce your salary without penalty. It’s important for employers to use good hiring processes, and for everyone to follow minimum rights and responsibilities. The Government has made it a condition of the subsidy that the employer must apply best efforts to continue to pay 80% of wages/salary while they are in receipt of the wages subsidy. Any agreed changes must be recorded in writing and signed by both parties, and the employee must be given reasonable time to consider the proposal. Can my employer reduce my hours? First they need to give a valid reason – not just “COVID-19”. This is not generally true, unless there is a specific clause in your employment contract that allows for it. Agreed periods where the employee is available and not available, this may mean accommodating for work being done in evenings. If your contract states your employer can amend any term of the contract, this may be far too wide–ranging and unspecific, so the employer could not change your contract without your agreement. Work environments are not static and employers can require employees to work outside of their regular working hours. Why? Dealing with COVID-19 is stressful for people’s mental health. But in the circumstances this is something a lot of employers are doing to help manage their revenue loss. This is a matter of agreement; it can not be imposed on you. Make sure your handwashing is meticulous and avoid unnecessarily touching your eyes, nose or mouth as viruses can transfer from your hands and into the body. He says I have to re-apply for the position, if I am unsuccessful I will be offered redundancy. Business has now improved and they have taken on 2 more people and my hours … Looking after our own mental health and wellness is vitally important as we face these unprecedented times with new demands whether you be at home or an essential worker. Physical distancing – keep 2 metres away from other people when out shopping or outside of your home. Having the agreed terms and conditions in writing is a legal requirement, whether the change is temporary or permanent. Can my employer make me use my sick leave or annual leave for COVID-19? Do not go out if you are unwell– even in the same home – stay away from others if you are unwell. Employers should only use these clauses to vary a contract if they have a good reason, for example the business is struggling financially and needs to cut staff hours. Can my employer reduce my wages because I’m working from home and looking after my children? Any agreed change to the employment agreement should be recorded in writing. Shortened processes must still occur in good faith and provide opportunity for workers to seek advice. Can my employer roster me on at any time and day to make up my guaranteed hours? This means your employer will reduce your working hours, or your work days each week, on reduced pay. This could be a temporary change until the employee can resume their existing job. If you allow your employer to trim your pay once, you are effectively giving them permission to do so again. During the Government imposed COVID-19 lockdown, the Government has made a wage subsidy available that employers can apply for to assist them to meet their wages/salary obligations. If there are difficulties accessing these or not understood or not being complied with please do contact your union. Section 4 of the Employment Relations Act 2000. These changes require additional good faith or other process arrangements, including consulting with employees and their representatives, providing time to respond to proposals and considering their comments. It is unlawful for an employer to ‘offer’ a variation on a take it or leave it basis. This means that normal obligations to keep in regular contact and to act in good faith are more important than ever. If an employee thinks that the change to their hours is disadvantaging them and that the process the employer followed was unfair or there were no genuine reasons for changing the hours of work, an employee should first try to resolve the issue with their … This needs to be discussed in good faith. These changes require additional good faith or other process arrang… They have to be done in “good faith” – you have to have a say, you need to be given time to consider them and seek advice and you can’t be threatened to accept any change (for example,” If you don’t to this, I will have to let you go”. Guidance for Trade Unions as an essential service. They must also follow a fair process in coming to the decision to make an employee redundant. As we are now in the COVID-19 recovery phase, normal consultation processes should be followed for any workplace changes proposed during the COVID-19 recovery period. We’ll do what we can to make the process as easy as possible for you. Please note that this content will change over time and may be out of date. The best way to prevent and resolve relationship problems between employers and employees. If they do agree, in writing, then no problem. retain the employees named in their subsidy applications for the period they are receiving the subsidy, personal grievance for unjustified dismissal. Authorised by NZCTU, Level 5, 178 Willis Street, Wellington. It is important for you to understand the context of the COVID-19 wage subsidy. At Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC, we understand the challenges of going up against an employer. Any reduction in hours below your normal level has to be done by agreement. An employer can say that they are no longer able to employ people and they are going to make the redundant because of COVID-19, but there has to be a fair process for doing this. PSA: enquiries@psa.org.nz 0508 367 772 If my employer doesn’t provide enough work to fill my guaranteed hours do I get paid for them? Any changes made need to be agreed to by both parties. A worker whose earnings have been reduced without their consent can request assistance from the Employment Relations Authority. ), So you can’t be given a new working from home employment agreement. If your employer alters your ordinary hours or roster without consent or discussion, and without the express right to do so under the contract, you may be able to claim constructive dismissal and/or damages for any loss suffered … Only employers with fewer than 20 employees can do this. Lay-offs. “Provided the employer follows a fair process and there is a genuine need to cost-cut, they can make employees redundant to … An employer cannot unilaterally change a fundamental term of employment without being at risk of a constructive dismissal claim. The wage subsidy schemes support employers and their staff who are financially impacted by COVID-19 to maintain an employment connection and ensure an income for affected employees. The length of time for this change must be stated in writing in the employment agreement variation. Employees who lose their job between 1 March and 30 October 2020 due to COVID-19 may be able to get the COVID-19 Income Relief Payment. In relation to COVID this should include providing appropriate protective equipment and making sure you are physically spaced. If the employer is unable to provide work, such as in the current circumstances of a Government ordered lockdown, it is likely you are entitled to be paid, in the absence of a term in your employment agreement which specifies otherwise. My employer says we are an essential industry. Depending on the circumstances the receiver may cancel your existing employment agreement, or they may offer you a new employment agreement with different conditions. Employment at will means that when workers don't have a formal employment contract or are covered by a bargaining agreement they can be terminated, demoted, and have hours reduced or pay lowered at the company's discretion. This section provides help in some key areas. To help us improve GOV.UK, we’d like to know more about your visit today. Meetings of half an hour as standard, one hour maximum, An alert like a text message rather than an email with urgent work so people are not having to constantly monitor email (or agree on a preferred communication style with employee). Casual workers are also entitled to the wage subsidy – your employer must seek it for you. Your employer may want to vary your employment agreements. What to do if my salary is being reduced. If your employee tries to wrongfully reduce your benefits, you can take legal action to secure your compensation and hold them accountable. Lawyer's Assistant: What steps have been taken so far? This includes: Employers and employees, and their representatives must discuss in good faith the implications of the COVID-19 response and recovery on their working arrangements. If your employer has not engaged with you and ignored queries raised about your change of hours and roster it may be committing a breach of your employment agreement. Benefits and payments – Work and Income (external link). This could be a temporary or permanent reduction. Copyright © 2010 NZ Council of Trade Unions. Regular employment law still applies to all employment relationships – regardless of the circumstances that we find ourselves in. If the employment agreement says that an employer can change the hours of work, the employer still has to act fairly and reasonably before they do. Provide you with all relevant information about the proposal to make you redundant, Provide you the opportunity to properly consider this information, Allow you to have input into the decision-making process by allowing you to make proposals. Make sure when you cough or sneeze cough and sneeze into your arm, use a tissue not your hand, and wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or using tissues. If your employee does not meet these standards, you are able to raise a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal. Thirdly have to show “good faith” in the process – that is be open and honest about what they are doing and listen to what you have to say. If your employer tries to make you take annual or sick leave make it clear that they cannot legally do so. limiting the duration of the changes to the COVID-19 lockdown; whether all employees are offered the proposed changes; if the wages/salary is reduced, whether work hours should also reduced; what will be the process for employees to agree to the variation. Employers can only tell you to reduce your hours if it's already outlined in your contract saying that they can. If you work isn’t essential you should be staying home. It will largely depend on the terms of your contract as to whether your employer can reduce your hours and pay. You can give your employees a range of hours to work within, and they can choose the actual hours … Still haven't found what you're looking for? Your employer should access a wage subsidy on your behalf and pass it through to you. It involves treating others fairly using common sense. NZ. You do not have to agree to a trial period. In some situations, (such as genuine financial, commercial or economic problems, or genuine restructuring of the business), reducing an employee’s rate of pay may be put forward as an alternative to redundancy. If your employer takes any money out of your pay, while expecting you to work your normal hours, this would be against the Wages Protection Act 1983. There are several requirements on employers and safeguards against wrongful redundancies. Your employer can cut back on your hours if it says they can in your contact. They must genuinely consider any proposal you put forward. Unfortunately, employers can, in most cases, cut your pay or reduce your hours since most employees are "hired at will." You always have the right to stop work if you believe it is unsafe. For example, you might be asked to work a three-day week, instead of a five-day week. Employers can check their eligibility and apply online on the Work and Income website. The length of time for this change must be stated in the employment agreement variation. Where changes to current working arrangements are proposed by an employer, there are specific good faith requirements that must be followed. That means: “Redundancy” is when your employer tells you they can no longer employ you and they are ending your employment agreement.Answer. Can my employer change my employment agreeement because of COVID-19? During the COVID-19 response period, there may have been circumstances where consultation on changes could reasonably have been shortened if the employer genuinely needed to make rapid adjustments to cope with their circumstances. Employers can check their eligibility and apply online on the Work and Income website. Any changes made need to be consulted on and agreed to by both parties. So you would have a right to continue being paid and an employer could not just terminate your employment because of COVID-19. The first job of the day is to organise the room attendants scheduals and to organise who will be cleaning what rooms. There may be situations where the employer is unable to do this but any reduction in pay to  a limit of $585.50 must be as a result of agreement between you and your employer. If you are entitled to any redundancy entitlements, these will be found in your collective or individual employment agreements, or any other agreement you’ve made with employer. Your employer has to keep honouring your employment agreement. No. The employer is obliged to consult with employees and to consider their feedback. If the employee has agreed then this would be legal, but only if the … Some contracts of employment contain a variation clause that can allow your employer to make changes to your contract. If your employer makes you a reasonable offer of alternative work, and you refuse it, you may lose your entitlement to a redundancy payment. Good faith is a legal requirement in Section 4 of the Employment Relations Act 2000. Can employees reduce … Workers seeking Information on corona virus and on all health aspects of the virus can find that on the website https://covid19.govt.nz/   The Ministry of Health’s website  is updated daily and contains the most up to date and comprehensive information about coronavirus including all the health and safety precaution for various groups of workers. AG - 30-Apr-18 @ 5:08 PM. Each situation will be different depending on the nature of the company in receivership. These changes can be temporary or permanent. No. Variation clauses will only generally allow reasonable changes and even if there is a variation clause, if you are unhappy you may still be able to “protest” the change and seek legal advice. As this relates to salary, an employee’s pay is undoubtedly a fundamental term. Most employment agreements  require the employer to provide work. 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