Posted on: Jan 30, 2015

28 January 2015

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered wage arrears be paid to workers and imposed a penalty on a Christchurch construction company for failing to provide the minimum wage and keep accurate employment records.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate investigated Verney Construction Limited last year after receiving a complaint from two employees involved in the Christchurch rebuild. The investigation found that the employer had been treating the workers as contractors when in fact they were employees. They had not received the minimum wage or their final holiday pay and were not provided with employment agreements.

The Inspectorate brought the case before the ERA after the employer failed to provide employment agreements, time, wage and holiday records despite multiple requests and the issuing of an Improvement Notice.

The ERA found that the employees should be paid the sum of the minimum wage and holiday pay arrears calculated by the Inspector (including interest). They also issued Verney Construction with a penalty of $2,000 for breaching orders of compliance.

Labour Inspectorate Southern Regional Manager Stuart Lumsden says employment records are required to be kept by law and failure to comply with a labour inspector’s request for them is a breach of the Employment Relations Act 2000.

“This is a disappointing trend that we are starting to see nationally — employers treating employees as contractors to avoid keeping records, making payments to IRD and paying the minimum wage and holiday entitlements.

“The Labour Inspectorate takes any breaches of minimum employment rights seriously. We are pleased the Authority has issued a penalty, sending a clear message to employers that failure to comply with the minimum labour standards will result in enforcement action,” says Mr Lumsden.

The Ministry encourages anyone in this situation, or who knows of anyone in this situation, to call its contact centre on 0800 20 90 20 where their concerns will be handled in a safe environment.

The Employment Relations Authority’s determination is available here.

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment



This article, and any information contained on our website is necessarily brief and general in nature, and should not be substituted for professional advice. You should always seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters addressed.

Posted on: Jan 30, 2015

Effective 1 April 2015, there are changes to the tax treatment of allowances that you might provide your employees. Allowances are payments made to an employee in addition to their salary or wage and can include payments for accommodation, food or clothing.

The changes clarify the tax treatment of employer-provided accommodation, accommodation payments and other allowances or payments made by employers to cover employee expenditure.

Find out more about benefit allowances (accommodation, meals or clothing)



This article, and any information contained on our website is necessarily brief and general in nature, and should not be substituted for professional advice. You should always seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters addressed.

Posted on: Jan 30, 2015

It’s important to follow a structured process when hiring a new employee, to ensure you get the right person for the job.  A thorough recruitment process should include the following five items which are expanded upon below:

  1. Job review– identify key responsibilities, skills and experience required
  2. Advertising – usually online and/or in local newspapers, social media sites, etc.
  3. Gathering information – application form, CV/resume screen, phone screen, interview, assessments/presentations, reference checks
  4. Offering the job – provide details e.g. pay, start date, hours/days of work etc.  If subject to a trial period make this known at the time of the offer! Send out letter of offer and employment agreement – ensure this is returned and signed before the employee starts work
  5. Decline unsuccessful applicants

Job Review

Before any recruitment can begin, it is first critical that the employer identifies exactly what the job involves. This requires a thorough job analysis, and the creation of an accurate job description.

The purpose of a job description is to summarise the intent and requirements of a job. A job description has personnel and human resources implications for an individual and an organisation, as well as legal implications when it comes to determining the duties required as part of an employment agreement.

A job description should define:


Most positions these days are being advertised solely online, but some positions continue to benefit from print-based advertising (newspapers/magazines). With online advertising being a cheaper and instantaneous option it is easy to see why this is now the preferred media for job vacancies. These listings can also be shared via social media sites so it’s easier to spread the word about the vacancy and increase the audience.

Gathering Information

Application Forms

A normal application would consist of a CV/resume and covering letter, but it is also recommended that you have an application form completed to declare things such as criminal convictions, health issues (that could impact on the candidate’s ability to perform the role), conflicts of interest etc. The application form can also request information about the candidates work history, seek referee details and provide consent to contact referees. Importantly, an application form will also provide a declaration that the candidate has been truthful on their application, and has not withheld any potential relevant information from the employer.

Do not ask questions that are discriminatory in application forms. When designing an application form, remember the privacy principles covering the collection of personal information.

CV/Resume Screening

Reviewing the applicants’ CVs will allow the recruiter to assess their skills, qualifications and experience, to determine if they may be suitable for the position. You can compile a shortlist of those applicants you think may be suitable for the position, and rank them in order of suitability. It helps to make some simple notes on your shortlist to remind you of the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses.

Phone Screening

Phone screening is a highly valuable and often under-utilised part of the recruitment process. By speaking to someone briefly on the phone you can quickly ascertain their communication skills for one, which is often a core competency for many positions. You can also ask some background information like “why did you apply for the role”, which provides an insight into someone’s motivations, as well as how much research the candidate may have done into the organisation. Importantly, you can also ask for the candidate’s salary or wage expectations, which can quickly filter out some candidates and narrow down your shortlist. Other useful things to ask are: their availability to attend an interview, and how much notice they are required to give if they are currently employed.


At Paul Diver Associates, we follow behavioural-based interviews, which focus on assessing the candidates’ abilities against a set of key competencies required for the role. Behavioural-based interviews involve asking the candidate questions about their previous experience, and focusing on what they actually did in particular situations. By understanding how a candidate has behaved in the past, the interviewer can assess how they are likely to perform in a similar situation in the future. If they can demonstrate the ability to perform adequately by providing specific examples of what they have done in the past, it shows they have the capability and transferrable skills to perform in the role that is being recruited.   After the interview, the competencies are rated against a scale and each person can be compared against each other to identify the leading candidate.

Below is a list of some sample interview questions:

Opening Interview Questions

Behavioral Based Interview Questions

Motivation, Personal Style & Career Aspiration Interview Questions


There are various tests available for an employer to utilise during the recruitment process. These include psychometric testing, personality profiling, ability tests (for example numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning), as well as role-specialised tests. In addition to these off-the-shelf type products, employers can develop their own tests for candidates to perform. For example, for senior positions candidates could be asked to present a business case (written, orally or both), administrators may be asked to perform a word processing task, or a chef may be asked to prepare a sample meal. The key with tests is to ensure that they are termed as a pre-employment assessment, that the candidate will not receive any remuneration for performing the test, and that no offer of employment has been made. Keep any test short in duration and only require the candidates to undertake “mock” work-related tasks. Employers must carefully tailor the tests so that candidates are tested on particular tasks central to the position.

Reference Checking

It is really important before offering someone a position that their references have been checked. The purpose of reference checking is to enquire with previous employers to see how suitable the candidates are, how reliable, competent, co-operative and so on. Asking former employers if they would consider re-employing the candidate and whether the candidate left of his of her own accord are really key questions. Regardless of how this question is answered if you hear hesitation in the previous employer’s voice it is a good indication there may have been some issues. If this occurs the person conducting the reference check can probe into areas of concern. It is also important to check if the information given by the referee is consistent with that on the application form, e.g. the position title and length of service.

To avoid liability under information privacy principle 2 (the requirement to obtain information from the person concerned) only contact referees with the express consent of the person applying for the job. Do not contact a present or past employer without first consulting the individual concerned. When seeking information from referees, ask the referee whether the information being provided by the referee is to be disclosed to the applicant, or if they would like it to be kept confidential. The referee’s wishes must be recorded.

Below is a list of some sample reference checking questions:

Job Offer

Once the final selection is made, offer that person the position. You may choose to do this by telephone initially and follow up with a formal offer/letter of appointment if this is appropriate.

Important note for employment subject to a 90 day trial period – ensure that at the time the offer is made (verbally or in writing) that the offer is subject to a 90 day trial period, and explain that it means for the first 90 days of the employment, the employee may be dismissed on notice, and if that occurs he/she is not entitled to raise a personal grievance in respect of that dismissal.

Notify Unsuccessful Applicants

Send out letters/emails to the unsuccessful applicants. All candidates should receive some form of communication in response to their applications, otherwise it will reflect badly on the organisation. It is sufficient in such a letter/email to merely to state: “Thank you for your recent application for the position of XYZ. There were many well-qualified and good calibre applicants for this position and unfortunately on this occasion you were unsuccessful”.

Legal Considerations

Don’t forget that there are a number of legal requirements that have to be taken into account when undertaking recruitment. Of particular importance is the need to avoid acting in a discriminatory fashion and to ensure personal information is kept private. It is important to review all job specifications, advertisements and application forms to ensure they do not contravene the law.


This article, and any information contained on our website is necessarily brief and general in nature, and should not be substituted for professional advice. You should always seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters addressed.