April 2019 news

Read news releases and research items from our April 2019 newsletter.

Research update: high involvement in the public sector

Rebecca Kirkham, School of Management, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington (article based on Rebecca's MCom thesis).

High involvement work practices (HIWP) are not a new concept. Since at least the 1930s, human resources and management professionals have recognised that involving workers in the direction of their organisation can have a positive influence on morale and ultimately on organisational performance. Furthermore, organisations that recognise employees’ expertise on how best to perform their jobs are well placed to utilise the skills and abilities that employees already have (Boxall & Macky, 2009).

However, much of the high involvement research has concentrated on the private sector. Through political and economic reforms in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the provision of public services has become increasingly subject to ways of doing business that originated, and continue to be practiced, in private industry. This includes both expectations around performance and ways of managing people.

Obituary: Chief Judge Tom Goddard (1937-2019)

Professor Gordon Anderson.

Readers will have been saddened to learn of the death, on 14 March, of the former Chief Judge of the Employment Court, Tom Goddard. Tom, along with his family, arrived in New Zealand as a refugees in 1948. He graduated from Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington with degrees in French and Law.

Following graduation he had a successful career in law specialising in defamation and labour law with Oakley Moran. Tom was appointed a judge of the then Labour Court in 1989 shortly thereafter becoming Chief Judge of the Court and in 1991 Chief Judge of the Employment Court, a position he held until his retirement in 2005. At his funeral his sons, who were somewhat apprehensive about Tom’s retirement, remarked that he took to it like a duck to water.

Legal update: the employer/union good faith relationship

Kaikorai Service Centre Limited v First Union Incorporated [2018] NZEmpC 160.

A case review from the team at KielyThompsonCaisley, employment law specialists.

A recent judgment of the Employment Court covers two issues relevant to the employer-union good faith relationship. The first issue concerns employers’ requirements to act in good faith when a union requests the inclusion of pay provisions in a collective agreement. The second involves the use of apparently insulting signs and props by Pak’n'Save employees in a protest outside their workplace.

Major changes to New Zealand’s employment laws

Dr Stephen Blumenfeld and Sue Ryall, CLEW

Once again, employment law is in the news, with the Government having announced several changes to New Zealand’s employment statutes last year that come into effect in April and May. Most of those changes were included in the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018, which was passed into law on December 11th. One may be excused a sense of déjà vu, though, when reflecting on the changes, as much of the Act amounts to a roll-back of changes made by the previous Government as recently as 2015.

The Act restores protections for employees, especially vulnerable employees, and strengthens the role of collective bargaining in the workplace. It introduces changes which take effect either the day after Royal Assent, 12 December 2018, or on 6 May 2019. Other recent changes to the employment law regime, nevertheless, bring into force entirely new legal requirements for employers and as of April 1 the increase in minimum adult wage, announced in December, and the Domestic Violence Victims’ Protection Act 2018 take effect.