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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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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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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Over The Fence

Further implementation of bobby calf regulations

Last year new regulations for young calves were introduced and took effect from 1 August 2016; we covered this in Rural eSpeaking, Winter/Spring 2016.

On 1 February, a new regulation came into force; bobby calves are to be fed at least once in the 24 hours before slaughter (a reduction from 30 hours).

Further regulations are to take effect this year including:

  • Proposed 1 August 2017: Suitable shelter will have to be provided for young calves before and during transportation, and at points of sale or slaughter, and
  • Proposed 1 August 2017: Loading and unloading facilities will have to be provided and used when young calves are transported for sale and slaughter. The facilities must be designed so that a calf is able to walk on or off the transport.

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Providing accommodation to your farm staff?

It’s not unknown for us to receive a shocked look from farmer clients when we advise them that they are subject to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 regarding the accommodation they are providing to their staff.

These types of accommodation provisions are classed as ‘service tenancies’. They are largely subject to the same rules as any other residential tenancy with a few minor exceptions such as rent in advance and termination notices.

Farmer is working on farm with dairy cows

As an employer or farm owner, you must comply with the same standards as any other landlord and you can be subject to a Tenancy Tribunal hearing if you fail to comply.

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Postscript

Computer virus scams

There can be very few of us who have not been rung with the caller saying they’ve noticed your computer has a virus. They give you directions on where to look on your computer, and then helpfully suggest that you download some software and sign up to a service that is meant to keep your computer safe.

And of course there is no virus, but you’ve lost your money and your computer may have been hacked.

To protect yourself from computer virus scams, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has some advice:

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Cyberbullying – stopping the trolls

In recent years there has been a significant increase in online abuse particularly of vulnerable young people. A high profile example was the 2013 ‘Roast Busters’ case involving teenage boys bragging of sexual activities with girls. This article looks at what remedies are available when cyberbullying takes place.

Cyberbullying has become commonplace with dreadful consequences for the victims including depression and suicide.

In September 2015, a 24 year-old-man was arrested in Denmark after a joint investigation between New Zealand and Danish authorities. The man posted private photos of an Auckland schoolgirl on websites and subsequently hacked the computers of the girl’s family and school.

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Changing Landscape in the Workplace

New health and safety legislation comes into force in early April. Organisations should always be aware of their obligations and responsibilities regarding health and safety. This is even more so now as new law, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, comes into force on Monday, 4 April this year. A summary of the most significant changes is set out below. We follow this with some practical steps to take to give you and your organisation the best chance of complying with the new legislation.

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