With Christmas approaching fast and ongoing increases in retail spending, your business may be finding it hard to recruit the extra help you need.
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It is important when hiring staff for this busy period that you treat your employees fairly and according to the law. It can be easy to make a mistake when rushing to prepare for the Christmas period, which can be costly. Make sure you follow these three key rules when hiring staff in the lead up to Christmas:
1. All employees must have a signed employment agreement (employment contract) before they start work.
- Employees must be given reasonable time (three to five days) to read, understand and ask questions before they sign the contract.
- By law, the contract must include certain clauses, including the type of employment (fixed-term, casual or permanent), duties, pay and other benefits, the place and hours of work, how problems can be resolved and more.
- Employment New Zealand’s Employment Agreement Builder is an easy way for you to put together a legal employment contract.
2. All employees have minimum rights that are set out in law. Minimum rights apply even if they’re not written in an employment contract.
Minimum rights include:
- Minimum wage: Employees must be paid at least the minimum wage, the current adult minimum rate is $18.90 per hour for each hour worked.
- Public holidays: Unless written in the contract, employees don’t have to work on public holidays. If they work on a public holiday, they must be paid time and a half, plus if it is a normal work day for them, they also get an alternative day off.
- Health and safety: Employers must provide appropriate training and information for workers so that they can work safely.
3. Employee work hours must follow the legal rules.
- Work activities must be time paid for by the employer, including before and/or after hours tasks, such as team meetings, opening and closing the business, cleaning and tidying up, on-the-job training and product familiarisation.
Hours of work (see ‘What activities are ‘work’’)
- It is illegal for employers to offer employees zero work hours and expect employees to be available without reasonable compensation.
Hours of work (see ‘Cutting back or increasing hours’ and ‘Having to be available for work shifts’)
- Work hours must include proper rest and meal breaks. For example, an employer who works an eight-hour shift gets two paid rest breaks and one unpaid lunch break.