As you will have read about and/or seen on television, sixteen (at time of writing this) prominent retailers have recently fallen foul of the Labour Inspectorate of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.
The cause of this might seem like commonsense gone wrong, however what this situation has done is bring an issue out into the light of day.
Everyone understands the basic consideration for undertaking employment is that the employee gets compensated for the work they perform. What MBIE have done is make it abundantly clear as to what and when a person is at work.
The problem the errant employers fell into was the expectation that their employees attended to work related matters after they had clocked off for the day. This meant the employer was getting the benefit of free work, albeit for short periods of time, from their employees. The problem was that, while the time involved each day may have been short, over the course of their employment, for the employees this amounted to a significant amount of unpaid time.
Now, while the retail sector has been caught out by this recent issue, it is highly likely that other employers practices may also be non-compliant with the employment standards. The Labour Inspectorate, unions, and media have been inundated with complaints from hundreds of employees across dozens of businesses after revelations that one retailer had forced employees to attend a morning meeting unpaid for at least 15 years.
It is important that all employers look at their practices when it comes to setting expectations of workers attending work related matters outside the employee's stated hours of work. If attending a staff meeting, either before or after work is mandatory then you need to ensure the employee is paid for their attendance at that meeting.
If your organisation is involved in trade shows or promotional events after hours and you require your staff to attend these, then you will need to ensure they are paid for their attendance time as that event.
Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway was quoted in Stuff.co.nz as responding to this issue with the following comment: "My message to employers is make sure you know your obligations as employers. Make sure you're taking care of your staff"
If you do require your employees to attend to work-related matters either before or after they have started their normal work day, you will need to ensure that your practice is to include that additional time as paid work time, otherwise you may find yourself joining the named and shamed retailers identified to date.
If you need assistance to review your practice to ensure that you are complying with New Zealand's employment standards, give McKone Consultancy a call today (027 698 2123) for a free no-obligation assessment.