Business briefs

Mainzeal case – highlights director responsibilities

The recent high-profile Mainzeal case[1] has highlighted the importance for directors to know and understand their duties under the Companies Act 1993.

Four of Mainzeal’s directors were found liable for $36 million in damages for breaching section 135 of the Act which is headed ‘reckless trading’. This section prohibits directors from agreeing to cause or allow the business of the company to be carried out in a way that is likely to create substantial risk of serious loss to the company’s creditors.

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The Wellbeing Budget 2019

As expected the government’s The Wellbeing Budget, presented by the Minister of Finance, the Hon Grant Robertson, on 30 May focussed very much on mental health and child wellbeing.

The wider economy was looked after with increases in funding to KiwiRail, the establishment of a new venture capital fund, investment in science and research, and so on.

wellbeing

The government has indicated that New Zealand’s economy is in good shape, despite some softening of the global economy.

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Postscript

Drones: know the rules

In our Winter 2017 issue, we published an article Up in the Air: Using your drone which gave some guidelines on using drones. With drones becoming more common, for both personal use and for business purposes, we thought it worthwhile reminding you of the law surrounding their use.

drones

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has rules regarding the piloting of drones to help minimise any risk to the public. Civil Aviation Rules (Part 101) have provisions that you must adhere to when piloting a drone that weighs under 25kg; most drones are under this weight.

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Wiping the slate clean

The seven year itch

The Clean Slate Act or clean slate scheme, more formally and correctly known as the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004, became law almost 15 years ago. The rationale behind the legislation was to enable people who had certain convictions to put their past behind them without the stigma of a permanent conviction. Having a criminal record can have far-reaching consequences for employment, immigration, voluntary work and various other matters.

What the legislation means

The Clean Slate Act limits the effect of convictions if certain criteria are satisfied. If it has been seven years since you were convicted, you will be considered to have no criminal record and can state this to anyone who asks.

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Over the fence

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.

minimum

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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Potpourri of employment law changes ahead

Monday, 6 May 2019 is D-day

Last year saw many changes in the employment law sphere, with the Labour-led government delivering on promises of reform in this area. Of particular significance are the changes incorporated into the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 that was passed late last year. These changes will affect both employers and employees. We summarise some of these below.

rest breaks

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Agri-tourism and food

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.

agritourism

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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Receivership of construction companies

Protecting your property and getting paid

In light of Ebert Construction’s recent receivership, not taking protective measures opens subcontractors up to recovery and enforcement issues. If you are a subcontractor, you should think about how to prevent your tools and equipment (including cranes and scaffolding) from being seized and sold by a receiver, and to ensure you have the best chance of getting paid.

Protecting your tools and equipment

The first step to take is very practical. If you can, always take your tools and equipment home with you each night. When a construction company goes into receivership, the receivers lock the gates to the relevant construction sites which prevents you from collecting your tools and equipment.

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Second thoughts

What happens when your employee wants to retract their resignation?

We all know that people can sometimes say things in the heat of the moment which, on reflection, they didn’t really mean. What happens when your employee quits suddenly, perhaps by storming out of your workplace as a result of a disagreement? As an employer, can you take this as a resignation? What happens if your employee has a change of heart and wants to return to work?

Most employment agreements will provide a notice period that any employee must give when they want to end their employment. This allows you some time to find a replacement and make arrangements for the handover of work.

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Questions you shouldn’t ask job applicants

An employment minefield

In the lead-up to the 2017 election, broadcaster Mark Richardson caused an uproar when he asked the then Leader of the Opposition, Jacinda Ardern, if she had plans to have children. The commonly-held view was that this question was outrageous. While a broadcaster has the liberty to ask a range of questions, an employer or potential employer cannot ask this.

Job interviews can be a challenge for both employers and applicants. There are varying opinions on the best way to interview applicants and which questions will help you ascertain if someone is the right fit for your workplace.

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