I have worked in HR for many years and come across so many different attitudes towards the department from both employees and manager. There are some common themes that seem to flow through the industry and most of them are myths rather than reality or fact. So, I thought I would debunk a few for you and hopefully you will see your HR department in a new light.
#1 – HR is always trying to catch you doing something wrong so they can tell management
Not so much – yes, they generally know the company polices (mainly because they wrote them) but they are not spies – actually it’s the manager’s job to enforce company policies.
#2 – HR people are all about paperwork
Now it may be true that there is a lot of administration in HR especially at the lower levels, HR managers mostly hate paperwork (I know I do). I would much rather be designing a new training initiative than filing your tax forms. Most of the paperwork in HR is unavoidable due to legal requirements to keep records etc – don’t shoot the messenger.
#3 – HR is just there to make your job harder – as a manager
Yes, there are rules and processes to follow but HR doesn’t make the rules. Mostly they act as risk managers for you in your people decisions, making sure that your choices are supported by evidence and are defendable.
#4 – HR is responsible for making work fun
NO. We are not – you have to make your own enjoyment – sure, we often get tasked with organising the Christmas party or staff BBQ but that’s actually not in the job description – and you can’t make people have fun…
#5 – HR people love listening to your problems
Most don’t. Of course we are human, we have compassion and empathy for you and your situation but we’re not a counselling service. We can’t fix your marriage, your drinking problem or your depression. You need to speak to a friend or seek professional help.
#6 – HR is a waste of time and resources
There are still a few managers out there that think like this and HR does not always help itself as a profession by insisting that we want to be included at the boardroom table. However, HR is more than processes and procedures, it’s about helping managers and organisations reduce risks, increase performance and grow profits through their people.
Hopefully this has been helpful, if you want to discuss any aspect of HR, please contact Tarryn on 027 530 1255 - we're happy to help you.
As a small business owner, you have to wear a lot of different hats – finance, marketing, sales and people management. If you are like me, you didn’t get into your business to do accounts or worry about how you are going to get your ad words in google to work. The reality is that when you are growing your business you can’t always afford a specialist to help and you have no choice but to do it yourself.
When it comes to managing staff most business owners simply want their staff to get on with the job. When things go wrong (and they do) they find themselves in a bit of a bind. Let’s imagine that you have discovered that one of your staff members has stolen a product from your retail shop. You discover the loss during a stock take and review your camera footage to see what happened. You can see your employee taking the item and putting it in their bag. So, what now? Your first reaction is going to be to call them an tell them what you found and tell them they are fired – you would be justified right? Well kind of.
In NZ employment law you need to give the employee a chance to tell you their side of the story, they need to have all the evidence that you have and have the chance to have a representative or support person at this meeting. You also need to assume that they are innocent until you have all this information. A hard thing to do if you have camera evidence!
While you would be justified in terminating their employment for theft but if you don’t follow the process you would still end up losing a personal grievance claim in the Employment Relations Authority, which can be very costly. Costs for losing a Personal grievance can run up to $30,000 when you factor in paying lost wages (usually 3 months lost wages) and hurt and humiliation payments of between $17,000 to $20,000. This seems ridiculous when you consider that the employee stole from you.
Getting this process right is both simple (with a little specialist help) and much cheaper than paying the personal grievance costs. So, you may think that getting help will be expensive, but it will save you in the long run.
The festive season is a chance for businesses to celebrate the year, bring some excitement to the office and let the staff blow off a bit of steam. We know that the office Christmas party can be the highlight of the year but there is always the chance that some people can have too much fun and you end up with HR or Health and Safety issues.
We want you to have a fun and safe Christmas party, so below we’ve outlined a few guidelines to help ensure your party is successful and without incident.
• Be clear about the behaviour you expect from your staff – a reminder never hurts. Email a reminder to them that it is a work event and therefore the usual work behaviour rules still apply although you want them to have some fun
• Remind your managers about their responsibility to look after their staff, ensuring that they behave reasonably, don’t overdo the alcohol and get home safely
• Safety at the venue – check out the party venue beforehand so that you know it’s safe for your staff
• Alcohol – this is the danger area at most parties. While you don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, you could consider limiting the amount of alcohol served. Provide plenty of food and make sure there are non-alcoholic beverages available. You could also organise some activities that people can participate in that don’t centre on alcohol to maintain a safe party atmosphere
• Getting home safely – while it’s not a legal requirement to provide transport home, you could be a responsible employer and ensure that your staff get home safely. Informing staff about their options around public transport, pre-booking taxis and facilitating designated drivers/carpooling etc can ensure that when the fun starts to wind down, everyone ends up safe in bed (although you can’t help with the morning-after headaches!)
Hopefully these quick tips will help ensure that your party is successful, that everyone has fun and that it's incident-free.
If you want to discuss any aspect of HR, including how to manage your Christmas party, please contact Tarryn on 027 530 1255 and we don't expect an invite!
The Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment bill is currently in process in parliament. Based on the premise that labour hire workers are being exploited and not afforded the same rights as their permanent counterparts, this bill seeks to redress this “loophole”. I am sure that every business at one time or another has needed a short-term temporary worker and engaged a labour hire company or temp agency to provide that assistance. What this bill will mean to employers if it is passed is that a temporary staff member engaged through an agency can bring a personal grievance against both companies.
Usually if you hire a temp through an agency you can give one days’ notice that you no longer require their services – and you don’t need a reason like you do for a permanent employee. Now, the employee will be able to raise a personal grievance against the temp agency and the company that they temped for, for unjustified disadvantage and unjustified termination. This bill places this whole industry in jeopardy and adds incredible risk to small businesses.
I think we are about to see a massive change in both the recruitment industry and temp labour industry. While the final bill has not been enacted yet this will be making temp agencies very nervous about their impending risk. Clients will no longer be able to terminate the services as needed and we may even see temps being exposed to the same disciplinary processes and restructuring processes that permanent employees need. This will completely remove the flexibility in the industry and tie businesses hands. What was once a great back up for unexpected absence or increased production need will now become a mine field of employment legislation and risk for both businesses and agencies.
We will keep an eye on the bill’s progress and update you as needed. Call if you have any questions or concerns.
I usually write a super work focused blog for my website once a month, but this month I am going to mix it up. At the end of July, it was the one-year anniversary of starting my business – EasyHR. Over the last few weeks I have been reflecting on what I have learnt in the last year and I thought I would share these thoughts with you.
So, here is to the next year (and hopefully many more), hope you guys will join me on the journey!
For many businesses the loss of the 90 day trial period that the new Labour government have promised will mean a lot of changes to the way they manage staff. Under the current 90 day trial period legislation all employers are able to hire a new employee (provided that they sign their agreement before they start, they haven’t worked for you before and the trial period is in the agreement) and terminate them within their first 90 days of employment without the risk of a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal.
The proposed changes will limit the trial period to only those employers with less than 20 employees. But employers with 21 or more employees cannot use the period anymore. According to research completed by the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) most employers were using the trial period to take a chance on a new employee – sometimes someone they would not have hired otherwise.
So, if you are an employer that is likely to lose your right to use the trial period what can you do instead? The general advice is to revert back to the probationary period. An employee could still raise a grievance for unjustified dismissal under a probationary period so structure is going to be very important.
I suggest that you have a very structured probationary period and you document this in your employment agreements. The clause should have three set review periods (say monthly), set performance targets based on the role and an understanding from the employee that if they do not meet these standards they may be terminated for poor performance.
That may sound quite harsh but as the EMA survey noted 90 of respondent said that they kept their employees on after the trial period and 94% of these employees stayed between 12-18 months with the company.
We will keep a close eye on the new legislation and let you all know what the final bill means for you.
I am sure that you have all seen the press around employers getting the Holiday’s Act 2003 entitlements wrong. The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment itself identified that they had paid holiday entitlements incorrectly. This week the new Labour government announced that a review would be started into the Holidays Act – thank goodness! The MBIE website states that a new regime is at least 2-3 years away and the new or amended legislation will not absolve employers from compliance with the current Act or remove their responsibility to re-mediate workers for historical underpayments. So even through things may get easier in the future, employers will still need to resolve their current problems.
For a small business, interpreting the Holidays Act is a tough call. Most businesses (including many large businesses) have historically relied on their payroll provider to ensure that calculation of holiday pay and entitlements were correct. Many of these business are now finding that this was a mistake but without the ability to have in-house expertise is an understandable position.
So why is the Act so complicated? It was drafted 15 years ago to reflect what working practices were like at the time. As I am sure everyone is aware, these have changed and it is not uncommon for employees to work flexible hours, days or even work casually for a number of employers. The Act simply cannot be easily applied to these kinds of workers. In addition, it uses different units of measure – days for sick leave, bereavement leave and alternative holidays and weeks for annual leave. This means that your payroll system needs to perform three different calculations in three different units if measure – hours, days and weeks.
If you are a small business and your employees work varying hours and days, you need to make sure that you get some good HR advice on what you should be paying people for their holidays. Remember that if you have paid employee’s incorrectly you have to recalculate their holiday entitlements going back 6 years. This also includes employees that have left the business. This is a huge undertaking and employers are encouraged to get outside assistance in auditing their current payroll practices and assisting with the recalculation if needed.
Tarryn has worked in HR for over 14 years and loves to solve problems. She is a self professed employment relations junkie! She lives in Auckland with her dedicated husband, tireless toddler and three special needs cats.