Privacy in the Workplace

What’s yours is mine?

In a world where technology is becoming more prevalent, it’s easy to feel that privacy rights are a thing of the past.

During the recent election campaign, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters accused government officials of breaching his privacy by leaking information to the media regarding errors in his superannuation payments. This created an uproar and, as yet, it’s not clear how the information was provided to the media. Not all privacy breaches are so high profile but they are becoming increasingly common given developments in technology and social media. Considering the numerous forms of communication we have now, there are many ways that information can be disseminated.

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Business Briefs

Security cameras – When does surveillance become an invasion of privacy?

The use of closed circuit television (CCTV) and/or security cameras are useful security tools for businesses to deter unwanted behaviour and identify wrongdoers. When you’re deciding whether to install and use CCTV and/or security cameras to protect your business, you must be aware of your obligations under the Privacy Act 1993.

The Act contains 12 privacy principles around the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. Personal information must be collected and used for lawful purposes, and usually can’t be disclosed to third parties without that person’s consent. To find out more about the 12 privacy principles, go here.

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How to Recover Undisputed Debts

When the court makes a decision that an individual or business is owed a debt, it issues a judgment order telling the debtor that they must pay the creditor. However, often creditors are left wondering what happens if the debtor doesn’t pay. Find out how the court can assist you in recovering an undisputed civil debt.

Collecting civil debt

The process of collecting civil debt if the debtor doesn’t pay is called ‘civil enforcement’. A creditor can only initiate civil enforcement where a court or tribunal has ordered a debtor to pay a civil debt. The court doesn’t enforce judgement orders automatically; a creditor must select the appropriate enforcement actions and manage the process independently, or with the assistance of a lawyer. When you make an enforcement application, you can claim interest on civil debt that’s more than $3,000. If your order is more than six years old, you may need the court’s approval before taking enforcement action.

You must know a debtor’s correct address before the court can take some enforcement actions on your behalf. If you don’t have the debtor’s address, you can:

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Time to Update Your Ts and Cs

New legislation in force from 1 September 2017

In February the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 (CCLA) was enacted which will repeal a number of commercial statutes and consolidate them in the CCLA. It comes into force on 1 September 2017.

If you operate a business that uses standard form contracts, terms of trade or other such documents which refer to the old laws, you should update those to take account of the new legislation.

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Making the Most of Your Agreement to Lease

An agreement to lease is an agreement between a landlord and tenant of commercial property. It gives the parties an opportunity to record their leasing arrangements before they are formalised in a deed of lease.

There are many details to be worked through between parties to a lease. The agreement to lease should set out most of the details between the parties so when it comes to signing the deed of lease there is no confusion or discrepancy.

What should be included?

The agreement to lease needs to clearly identify the parties to the agreement and the premises to be leased.

In addition, it should record the annual rent, any reviews of the annual rent, the term of the lease, any renewals of the lease as well as a commencement date and the details of any guarantors required.

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Business Briefs

It will all come out in the wash: non-compliance with minimum employment standards

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has imposed a significant penalty of $145,000 on Manukau Auto Valet Limited for its failure to pay minimum wages and/or holiday pay to at least 115 of its employees.[1] The penalty was imposed in addition to Manukau Auto Valet’s reimbursement of $96,451 to its employees, which was owed as a result of its non-compliance.

In total there were 322 separate breaches of employment law, each being capable of being penalised with a fine of up to $20,000 that created a total potential liability of $6,440,000. However, as is usual in situations like this, the ERA applied a globalised approach in respect of the breaches and considered other relevant matters such as Manukau Auto Valet’s co-operation. The penalty was reduced to $145,000, which is still a significant sum.

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Shareholders’ Agreements

Relationship property for companies

Shareholders’ agreements are comparable to relationship property agreements (colloquially known as ‘pre-nuptial agreements’), as the objective of each is to establish rules for relationship property – whether it’s in your business or your personal life.

Not all relationships were built to last forever, and even the most stable relationship amongst shareholders may waver. Issues may also arise unexpectedly, such as the death of a shareholder or the need for a shareholder to sell their shares. Planning in advance for these events can pre-empt a dispute, and save some costs for the respective parties.

Unlike a company constitution, a share-holders’ agreement is not registered with the Companies Office and therefore it has a greater degree of confidentiality. Company constitutions generally contain the nuts and bolts provisions to operate the company that are not provided for in the Companies Act 1993.

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Airbnb

Key tax considerations

Becoming an Airbnb host sounds like the perfect way to fund some overseas travel for yourself and rent out your home while you are away.

The popularity of online booking platforms such as Airbnb, BookaBach and Holiday Homes has grown significantly over the past few years. They are seen as easy for property owners to market and rent their property to the end user, and it turns idle holiday homes or spare bedrooms into income earning assets. BookaBach currently has more than 12,200 holiday rentals and Airbnb has 15,000+ hosts. Airbnb hosts’ average annual income in 2016 was $3,800.

AirBNB

If you want to become an Airbnb host, you’ll need to consider your income tax situation, GST and your ownership structure…

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DIY at the Disputes Tribunal

If you have a claim of up to $15,000 – the Disputes Tribunal provides a simple, cost-effective way of dealing with civil disputes. We outline below the basics of what you need to know to make a claim.

The Disputes Tribunal is not a court and there are no judges. Hearings are run by referees who will help the parties to reach an agreement. You can’t have a lawyer with you at the actual hearing – you have to represent yourself. You can, however, talk with us before lodging a claim or attending your hearing.

Disputes Tribunal

We do urge you, however, to try and settle your dispute rather than have to go to the Disputes Tribunal.

Claim threshold

Generally, the Disputes Tribunal is for claims of up to $15,000. However, if everyone agrees then the amount can be $20,000. If you have a dispute for between $15,000 and $200,000, you will need to go to the District Court. The High Court hears larger disputes.

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Will Your Business Survive if You Don’t?

Planning is key

Most owners want to ensure their business will continue after they have died. Often they want their family to be able to carry on the business. A common form of business in New Zealand is the family farm and this poses particular problems all of its own. Most people know that they need to have an up-to-date Will and Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) to cope with any unexpected events. However, there is a lot more planning that you should do as well.

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