Minimum wage review 2019
The government reviews the minimum wage each year.
On 1 April 2019 the adult minimum wage will increase from $16.50/hour to $17.70/hour. The starting out and training minimum wage will increase from $13.20/hour to $14.16/hour. The government has also set indicative rates of $18.90/hour from 1 April 2020 and to $20.00/hour from 1 April 2021. These rates will be subject to each year’s annual review.
We recommend you review all wage and salary structures to ensure your employees are paid at least the minimum wage at all times for hours worked.
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Review due in May
The National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) were first proposed in 2010. Following a period of consultation, the Standards came into effect on 1 May 2018, with a review due in 12 months after that (May 2019) to ascertain whether or not they are being successfully implemented.
Ironically, the NES-PF came into effect a month before torrential rain north of Gisborne in the Tolaga Bay area in June 2018. This storm caused flooding which led to tonnes of forestry debris being strewn across farms and blocking rivers. The cleanup was expected to cost around $10 million and to take up to a year to complete. The cost and responsibility for this cleanup is still being determined.
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Directors have personal liability for company debt in liquidation
A recent decision in the Court of Appeal has made a director liable for almost $500,000 of company debt due to the company’s failure to keep adequate accounting records. The decision highlights the importance for directors to understand their duties under the Companies Act 1993. The Act requires directors to ensure that the company keeps proper financial records.
If you are a director and fail to keep adequate accounting records, and the company is unable to pay its debts in liquidation, then the court can make you personally liable if the failure has resulted in:
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High Court provides useful guidance for subcontractors
The collapse last year of Ebert Construction Limited took many in the construction industry by surprise, particularly its subcontractors who were owed retention moneys. In our Spring 2018 edition (No 50) we published an article on Ebert Construction and subcontractors which had a section on retention moneys. Since then, the High Court decision has provided some guidance on the retentions scheme under the Construction Contracts Act 2002. We explain the main aspects of that decision and how subcontractors can help manage their risk.
The retentions regime
The retentions regime was created under the Construction Contracts Act 2002. It requires all principals/head contractors to hold moneys they retain on trust. The regime aims to protect retention funds if the principal/head contractor becomes insolvent. While Ebert was not legally required to establish a separate bank account to hold the retention money, it did so.
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Mycoplasma bovis and land transactions
Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) continues to be a real concern for the farming industry in New Zealand.
If you are thinking of entering into legal arrangements for the sale and purchase of rural land, it’s important that you consider including specific provisions that address M. bovis. There will be the possibility that livestock on the subject property may test positive for M. bovis between the date of the signed agreement for sale and purchase and the date for settlement.
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The legal implications of diversifying your farming operation
Agri-tourism and food are growing sectors in New Zealand. We have farm tourism where tourists are shown working farms with activities such as sheep dog and shearing exhibitions. Artisan producers are growing their own products and then processing them into, say, cheese, and free-range pigs are becoming salami, bacon and ham.
Often farm and food tourism begins as a way of diversifying a farm’s income stream. Sometimes it starts off as a relatively small hobby or sideline activity but then grows into something much larger in scale.
There are legal implications to consider when you diversify your farming operation in these ways, particularly with regard to health and safety in the workplace and food safety.
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An alternative to prosecution under health and safety legislation
Enforceable undertakings were introduced in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) as an alternative to prosecution. An organisation that has breached its health and safety obligations, and is under investigation by WorkSafe, can enter into a binding agreement with WorkSafe to remedy their breaches, rather than going through prosecution and sentencing. In this article we discuss the features of this alternative and the potential benefits of taking this path.
Enforceable undertakings are not an easier or lower cost alternative to prosecution, but there are other benefits to a business.
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Guest editorial from the ANZ
By Reuben Tucker, ANZ Head of Transaction Banking for New Zealand and the Pacific
While there’s been a lot of hype around cryptocurrencies, it’s the underlying blockchain technology that has the potential to solve real business problems, particularly here in New Zealand.
Blockchain is a secure and decentralised way of sharing data and transactions. This means that every event and every transaction is time-stamped and stored in digital ‘blocks’, which become part of a growing chain and a permanent record that cannot be altered or tampered with because it is accessible to all those who can access the ledger.
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It’s good practice to review its purpose
If you have a family trust set up a number of years ago, it’s good practice to review it to ensure it is still ‘fit for purpose’. Leading on from that is the question that is often asked of us, “Should I bring my trust to an end?”
Trusts are still very useful arrangements, and there is usually a good reason why you established a trust in the first place. If that reason no longer exists, however, then it may be sensible to think about alternative arrangements.
Continue reading “Do I still need a trust?”
Workplace culture crackdown
The recent #metoo movement has drawn worldwide attention to workplace harassment. The New Zealand government has responded by collecting data about workplace harassment through confidential complaint lines and signalling clear expectations of New Zealand workplace culture.
Harassment may never be totally stamped out. However, your business can take steps to minimise harm and create a safer environment for your staff. These include:
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