Talent & Performance

Offensive language within the workplace: When does it cross the line?

Profanities in the workplace; acceptable always, never, or only in times of deep exasperation?  Does swearing in the workplace give an employer enough grounds to terminate an employee?  As an employment lawyer it’s relatively common for me to hear of circumstances where employees have been reprimanded for their choice of language within the workplace –...

Dismissal, Behaviour, Investigations

Serious misconduct: a salutary reminder

We still see many clients whose disciplinary policies dealing with misconduct require sequential warnings before an employee’s employment can be terminated for misconduct, unless the conduct amounts to ‘serious misconduct’. The prescriptive nature of these policies reduces an employer’s discretion to determine a sanction which is appropriate to each individual case. The result? Employers scrambling...

Injury, Safety & RTW

NZ: Health and Safety Update – July 2019

Working together A recent District Court decision reaffirms the need for different companies to consult, co-operate, and co-ordinate when working on the same site. Phil Stirling Building Limited (PSBL) and Duncan Engineering Limited (DEL) were recently found guilty of charges under ss 34, 36 and 48 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015...

Employee Relations & IR

NZ: Increase in parental leave payments

The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 (Act) provides the minimum leave entitlements for new parents. In New Zealand, if an employee or their partner is having a baby, or taking permanent responsibility for the care of a child under six years old, they may be entitled to be able to take Parental Leave,...

Disputes, Liabilities, Case Law

Australia: biometric data, the Privacy Act, and the employee records exemption

In Jeremy Lee v Superior Wood Pty Ltd,[1] the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) considered the lawfulness of an employer directing an employee to provide their biometric data.  In this case, Mr Lee objected to his employer’s direction to use a fingerprint scanner to sign in and out of his work site, under Superior...