February 2020 news

Read news releases and research items from our February 2020 newsletter.

A ‘Spirit of Service’ culture at the core of new Public Service Act

Dr Richard Norman, Senior Lecturer in the School of Management at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

The Government’s plan for a new Public Service Act is overdue recognition that ideas about organisations have changed markedly since the 1988 State Sector Act used then fashionable thinking that emphasised contracts, markets and accountability to radically alter the systems in place since 1912. The proposed Act seeks to embed a ‘spirit of service’ that could provide a more motivating environment for staff.
Passing legislation, however, is easy compared with changing organisational culture – the day-to-day interactions that add up to the experience of staff and citizens of ‘how things are done here’.

Can coaching help improve management quality?

Dr Geoff Plimmer, Senior Lecturer in the School of Management at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

International comparison studies show that management quality in New Zealand is in the lower middle rankings – above Poland, Mexico and other countries, but below the wealthy North American and European countries we often like to compare ourselves with (Bloom, Genakos, Sadun, & Van Reenen, 2012). Public services have particular problems, and often rate worse in management practice than private organisations. In New Zealand, public organisations seem particularly bad at managing people, with problems around bullying, poor change management, collaboration and adapting to change.

One popular response in addressing this issue is coaching. Coaching has a lot of advantages compared to other interventions such as training courses. It can help people deal with problems as they emerge, and it avoids the scheduling problems and difficulty transferring the knowledge back to the job that can occur with event-based generic courses.

Legal update: redundancy in a role restructure

Johnston v The Fletcher Construction Company Limited [2019] NZEmpC 178.

A review from Peter Kiely and Anthony Kamphorst, Partner and Solicitor, Kiely Thompson Caisley.

This case deals with the issue of redundancy – if a role is restructured or ceases to exist, does the employee filling the role automatically become redundant. In particular, an employee who, following a restructure, was given the option of either accepting a new role or continuing in their old role. The employee instead resigned and raised a personal grievance claiming he had been made redundant, and should therefore be entitled to redundancy compensation.

Centre celebrates 50 years

September 2020 marks 50 years since CLEW was established, originally as the Industrial Relations Centre (IRC). To commemorate our 50th anniversary, we will hold seminars on key topics that have been the focus of the Centre’s research throughout the last five decades.

What lies ahead for regulatory change in 2020?

Dr Stephen Blumenfeld, Director, CLEW.

Despite the many amendments to New Zealand’s employer laws and nuances in administrative practice over the past 30 months, the Government is looking to make yet more changes in the leadup to the 19 September general election. We look here at some of the most recent changes to employment relations implemented by government and at what 2020 is likely to entail.

Note: a corrected version of this article was uploaded on 14 February 2020.