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.

Continue reading “Receivership of construction companies”

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.

Continue reading “Second thoughts”

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.

Continue reading “Questions you shouldn’t ask job applicants”

How old do you have to be?

As lawyers, we’re often asked the legal age for a variety of things such as agreeing to medical treatment, making a will and so on. We thought it would be useful to pull together some of this information as a guide for the required ages in these situations.

The younger years

At the age of five, you can be enrolled in a state school, although, under a recent law change, a child can start school at the beginning of the term closest to their fifth birthday, if their school has a ‘cohort entry’ policy. Youngsters don’t actually have to start school until they’re six years old.

At just 10, you can be charged with murder or manslaughter and, at 12 years old, you can be charged with a number of other serious criminal offences.

Teen times

When you’re 14 years old, you can be left at home alone. You can also babysit a child, as long as you’re capable of providing reasonable supervision and care. You can now also be prosecuted for any criminal offence.

When you turn 15, you can wave goodbye to school, but you will need approval from the Ministry of Education.

On reaching your 16th birthday, you can sit a driving test and get your learner driver licence. Generally, you can leave home without your parents’ agreement (unless there are serious concerns about your welfare). You can agree to, or refuse, medical treatment.

At 16, you can get married or enter into a civil union for which you will need your parents’ consent – even though you don’t have to live in the same house as them. Once you marry, however, your parents will no longer be your guardians.

You can leave school of your own volition at 16, and you’re also eligible to work full-time. You can legally consent to have sex, apply for an adult passport, fly a plane solo, apply for a firearms licence and you’re eligible for various state benefits. Your parents cannot change your name, unless you agree to it.

There’s more . . .

When you’re 17 years old, you can join the armed forces if you have your parents’ consent. You can apply to join the New Zealand Police, but you can’t start training at Police College until you’re 18.

In the criminal court system, after you turn 17 you will be treated as an adult and must appear in the District Court or High Court; you no longer appear in the Youth Court.

Your 18th birthday signals the end of your parents (or legal guardians) having any legal responsibility for you. You can make a will; although in some circumstances younger people can do this. You can get married or enter into a civil union without your parents’ consent. You can go off to the bank to apply for your own account, credit card and a loan. (You may have a bank account when you’re under 18 years old, but it must be in the joint name of a parent or guardian.) You can be called upon to do jury service. You may place bets at the TAB or racecourse, buy Instant Kiwi tickets, vote in national and local body elections and you may stand as a political candidate. You can legally buy alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco or fireworks and can change your name, all without needing anyone’s agreement.

That’s not everything

At the age of 19, if you’re adopted, you can place a veto that will last a decade on information about you so that your birth parents cannot contact you; this veto can later be removed or renewed.

After you turn 20, your birth parents can ask Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children) for information about you. If you don’t want them to do that you must apply for a veto; you need to write to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages saying that you don’t want information to be released that could identify you. In the letter, you must say if you’d like counselling about your choice.

By the time you’re 20 years old, you have the vast majority of adult rights and responsibilities. If you’re adopted, you can apply to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages to obtain a copy of your birth certificate to find out the names of your birth parents. You can apply to adopt a child who is related to you. You can gamble or work in a casino, and you may drive with a small amount of alcohol in your system.

When you are 25, you can apply to adopt a child who is not related to you, as long as that child is at least 20 years younger than you.

There are, however, a number of things you can do with no minimum age. You can buy contraceptives, own land, purchase a lotto ticket, obtain a passport, have a tattoo and join a trade union.

We hope this helps with some age-related queries, and that the answers haven’t come as too much of a shock – particularly to parents! Please contact us if you have any questions we haven’t answered here.

Business Briefs

Is your business infringing existing intellectual property rights? Do your homework.

A trade mark can be a valuable asset which can help your business to develop a reputation in the market and distinguish your goods and/or services from others. It’s risky, however, to not consider existing third party intellectual property rights before you start to trade.

There would be nothing worse than finding the perfect location, deciding on a business name and launching into trading, only to receive a letter six months later to say that your business is infringing existing third party intellectual property rights, and that you must stop using it immediately. In most situations the only way forward is to re-brand and potentially lose your existing goodwill and customer recognition.

Continue reading “Business Briefs”

Compensation for emotional harm in the workplace – trending upwards

Compensation awards for employees who have suffered emotional harm in the workplace have traditionally been low, which has been favourable for employers facing claims by employees.

emotional harm

Recently, however, compensation amounts have increased and are achieving greater consistency for employees. Employers now, more than ever, need to treat their employees properly to ensure they do not face significant compensation awards for personal grievance claims.

Continue reading “Compensation for emotional harm in the workplace – trending upwards”

Postscript

Food Act 2014 – rolling deadlines to register your food business

The legislation has introduced a sliding scale where businesses that are at a higher risk, from a food safety viewpoint, are required to operate under stricter requirements than lower risk outlets. The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) points out that a corner dairy operator who reheats meat pies is treated differently from a meat pie manufacturer.

New food businesses must register when they start to trade. Existing businesses are required to register with a set of rolling deadlines.

Continue reading “Postscript”

Over The Fence

Stock movements

Gypsy Day approaching and Mycoplasma bovis

First detected in New Zealand in July 2017, Mycoplasma bovis (M.bovis) has become an issue for our agricultural sector.

Gypsy Day is fast approaching for our dairy farmers which sees increased stock movements around New Zealand. If you are buying cows, we recommend that you have the protection of a written agreement. This agreement can provide warranties and provisions around the rejection of animals.

Such protections are not available, obviously, when moving your own stock to another property you also own or on which you sharemilk. We recommend you check for Restricted Place Notices and Notices of Directions when moving stock/farms.

Continue reading “Over The Fence”

Great, You Have Found a New Business, Now How to Buy It?

Looking to purchase a business? We can help! There are a number of steps involved in buying a business, and working your way through them can seem quite overwhelming, particularly for first time buyers.

Often prospective purchasers overlook important aspects and end up having to sort out issues that arise after settlement – at significant cost. This article puts the spotlight on common snags people experience when buying a new business.

Choosing a business structure

It’s important that you select the business structure to suit your personal circumstances and business aims. There are four main types of business structures, each with pros and cons:

Continue reading “Great, You Have Found a New Business, Now How to Buy It?”

Flurry of Employment Law Changes Ahead

The 2017 general election has given the Labour-led government an opportunity to re-shape the direction of employment law in New Zealand.

We outline the upcoming changes, announced on 25 January, which include modifications to the 90-day trial period, the restoration of rest periods and collective bargaining. These changes will be incorporated into an amendment to the Employment Relations Act 2000. We also touch on the proposed compulsory redundancy provisions.

The 90-day trial period

After early indications that this change was to affect all businesses, the government will abolish the current 90-day trial periods for businesses with more than 20 employees. The 90-day trial periods remain in place for businesses with 19 or fewer employees.

New employees of businesses with 20+ employees now have recourse against any perceived unfair treatment and unjustified dismissal by allowing them to bring personal grievance proceedings during the first 90 days of employment.

Continue reading “Flurry of Employment Law Changes Ahead”