Employment Law Update

An essential forum in extraordinary times


Welcome from the Chair
Jennifer Mills, Director - Head of Practice, Jennifer Mills & Associates
From surviving to thriving- COVID learnings, future trends, and expectations
  • The current state of New Zealand labour markets and how they are likely to evolve 

  • Looking to international labour markets- the effect of closed borders on NZ productivity, seasonal employment, and development 

  • The effect of increased unemployment and transient workforce

Johanna Drayton, Partner, Dyhrberg Drayton Employment Lawyers
Filtering organisational policies- Bringing flexibility into your employment agreements
  • Defining work in this new context- the result of increased flexibility and less clarity  

  • Evaluating what should be in your employment agreements and not in your organisational policies 

  • The necessity of flexibility- bringing context into employment agreements and eliminating excessive restrictions 

Charlotte Joy, Solicitor, Bell Gully
Morning Break
Exploring challenges with normal, holiday, and discretionary pay
  • Working through new cases that have come out of lockdown 

  • Determining “normal pay” in abnormal circumstances- calculating holiday pay and sick leave  

  • The effect of a gig economy- Looking at commission-based pay in reduced hours and recessionary times 

Sherridan Cook, Partner, Buddle Findlay
Best practice and common challenges for performance management
  • Best practices for performance management in person and at a distance 

  • Taking context into consideration- how do our personal lives effect work?  

  • The disciplinary process- what can you do to smooth the transition from performance management to disciplinary action 

  • Navigating common pitfalls when discussing the disciplinary process 

Shelley Kopu, Employment Law and Health and Safety Leader, EY Law
Restructuring, redeployment, and redundancies
  • Examining the key legal issues when restructuring organisations  

  • Reinvention through redeployment- evaluating all of your options when making difficult decisions 

  • Navigating the redundancy process and having difficult conversations with staff 

  • Balancing dismissals with the wage subsidy 

Amanda Douglas, Partner, Wynn Williams
Lunch Break
Working from home – what are your employment obligations?
  • How to manage health and safety  

  • Who bears the costs of WFH? 

  • Other employment issues – confidentiality, productivity, equipment 

Alison Maelzer, Partner, Hesketh Henry
Managing medical incapacity
  • Examining case law and defining your obligations as an employer   

  • What should raise red flags and what can be done to mitigate them?  

  • Determining a fair and reasonable process when dealing with medical incapacity in the current climate 

Mere King, Senior Associate, Buddle Findlay
Alternative employment agreements
  • The scope of responsibility in different employment agreements and contracts  

  • Reviewing triangular contracts- defining work and employment 

  • Independent contractors- roles, responsibilities and restrictions  

Matthew Hutcheson , Senior Solicitor, Duncan Cotterill
Getting on the same page- bettering your collective contracts and strengthening union ties
  • Collaborating with your unions- working together to better your professional relationships  

  • Outcomes from recent redundancies and restructurings under collective agreements 

  • Best practices to avoid common issues with collective agreements   

  • Investigating pay and entitlements- how do these differ when working with unions? 

  • Ensuring due process is followed- the key responsibilities when discussing collective contract

Richard Wagstaff, President , New Zealand Council of Trade Unions
Afternoon Break
Returning to normal- what does continuous flexible working mean for business continuity
  • Assessing the casualisation of the workforce- what will this look like and how will this affect pay moving forward? 

  • Setting clear expectations when working with flexible arrangements  

  • Protecting you staff’s mental health- minimising employee burnout and discussing the right to disconnect  

James Warren, Partner, Dentons Kensington Swan
Mini case studies: Operating over lockdown- crisis management, good faith, and setting expectations

Here we will listen to three organisations divulge company secrets when moving through a time of crisis in short 15-minute sessions answering questions including: 

  • How did they handle crisis management and how did they prioritise crucial business elements?  

  • What space does good faith have in the current climate? 

  • How has this compared to non-essential businesses? 

  • Benchmarking new expectations for business processes and performance 

Jade Leung, General Manager People and Performance, Horizon Energy Group
Simon Brown, Head of Culture & Performance, NZME
Jess Ah Kuoi, Head of People and Culture, Eye Institute
Summary Remarks from the Chair and End of Conference
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