Welcome to the Vision Accounting e-newsletter for March 2015. This is a great way for us to share important information you need to know, helpful tips and hints and practical resources to help you in business for 2015.
What's very Important?
New requirement for Companies
From 1 May 2015 new registration requirements come into force for applications to incorporate a New Zealand Limited Liability company. All New Zealand incorporated companies must have at least one director who lives in New Zealand or who lives in Australia and is a director of an Australian incorporated company. Existing companies on the companies register will have 180 days to comply with these New Zealand ‘resident director’ requirements. In addition, all directors must provide their place and date of birth and all companies must supply their ultimate holding company details (if applicable).
if you think you may be affected.
Stock Take as at 31 March 2015
For those of you that run a business that has a stock holding please do not forget to take a physical stock take on or just before the 31st
of March this month. As that date falls on a business trading date, you may want to do the actual counting of the stock on the Saturday or Sunday prior, and adjust the figures down for any sales made on the last two days of the month. If you run a stock taking program, that is great, however that does not replace the requirement to do a physical stock take. This is to ensure all your stock is physically present, as incorrect inventory items may have been sold through the till system, or worse they have gone ‘walk-abouts’, plus some items may be obsolete or unsaleable so should be written off. So, take out those clipboards and start counting.
What You Need to Know
Employment law changes
The government has made some major employment relations changes, effective from 6 March 2015. Changes target flexible working arrangements, rest and meal breaks, continuity of employment for vulnerable employees upon restructuring, the good faith provisions, collective bargaining, and how the Employment Relations Authority gives its determinations.
Flexible working arrangements
Up till now flexible working arrangements
have only been available to caregivers who have been employed at their place of work for six months or more. From March, all employees will have the right to request flexible working arrangements from their first day on the job. There’s no longer a limit on the number of requests an employee can make in a year. When employers receive requests for flexible work arrangements, they must respond within one month, rather than three as before. The response must be in writing and, if a refusal, it must explain why.
Rest and meal breaks
Previously, provisions for rest and meal breaks
were quite strict. They now seek to balance the importance of rest and breaks for employees with what is practical for the business. Essentially, employees are entitled to breaks and, if it’s not possible for the employer to ensure breaks for employees, the employer must offer reasonable compensation. Employees and employers can’t contract out of the right to rest and meal breaks though under some circumstances an employer might be exempt from giving breaks or may restrict breaks when the restrictions are reasonable. Key to the new provisions is that employers and employees agree on whatever arrangements are put in place and that arrangements are reasonable. If you are considering varying the arrangements around rest and meal breaks for your employees, touch base with your employment advisor to discuss your approach. As with other employment matters it is important to follow fair process and document any agreements made with employees so that, if required, you can show you have acted fairly and reasonably.
Continuity of employment
The changes to continuity of employment
relate specifically to employees in situations where an employer is restructuring or selling a cleaning or catering business and employees are transferring to the new employer. A 2012 review found businesses have difficulty implementing the provisions in practical terms. The changes include set time frames for employees to elect to move to a new employer; the outgoing employer’s obligation to provide the new employer with detailed information on employees and their entitlements; a way for the outgoing and incoming employers to share responsibility for employee entitlements if they can’t agree on it; protection for employers from unjustified increases in employment costs; and provision for SMEs to be exempt.
Good faith provisions and confidential information
Where the employer proposes to take a decision which will or is likely to affect that employee’s continued employment adversely, changes to the good faith
provisions set out what confidential information an employer has to give an employee. The employer must give the employee confidential information where it relates to them but does not have to provide confidential information on anyone else if doing so would involve an unwarranted disclosure of their affairs. Nor are employers required to give confidential information that legally must stay confidential, or where there is a good reason to keep the information confidential (for example, to protect the business’ commercial position). Where allegations are made against an employee, the employee should still know the identity of their accuser and the nature of allegations made against them unless there is good reason to keep this information confidential.
The new collective bargaining framework
includes provision that collective bargaining does not have to be concluded, though employers will not be able to end bargaining or refuse to enter into a collective agreement just because they object in principle to collective bargaining or collective agreements. A party to collective bargaining can apply to the Employment Relations Authority for a determination as to whether bargaining has concluded. Employers will be able to opt out of multi-employer bargaining from the start.
New employees who are non-union members are no longer covered by terms and conditions of a collective agreement for the first 30 days of their employment. Employers may respond to partial strikes by imposing proportionate pay reductions and unions must provide advanced written notice of any proposed strikes and lockouts.
There are also changes to when and how the Employment Relations Authority
must give preliminary findings and determinations following an investigation.