As we head into the Christmas rush, you might need to employ extra staff to help you get through this busy period. However, don’t get so busy that you miss something in your new staff members’ contracts. There are three key rules to ensure your employees are treated fairly and according to the law:

1. All employees must have a signed employment agreement before they start work.

• Give new employees a few days to read, understand, and ask questions before they sign the contract.
• 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, etc.
• Use templates in New Zealand Workforce Manager or Employment Agreement Builder to help you put together a legal employment contract. It covers what you must do by law and sets out common mistakes made by employers and how to avoid them. It takes about 30 minutes to complete and you can save it part way through.

2. All employees have minimum rights that are set out in law, including:

• Minimum wage: Employees must be paid at least the minimum wage; the current adult minimum rate is $22.70 per hour.
• 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 workday 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 paid for by the employer also include 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.
• It is illegal for employers to offer employees zero work hours and expect employees to be available without reasonable compensation.
• 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 meal break.

We’re here to help, so if you have a question or are unsure about any employment issues, give us a call.