With COVID-related changes causing unpredictable spikes and troughs in demand in many industries, employers are dealing with more staffing challenges than ever. Scaling back business, staff, and operations are all commonplace actions in our current business climate, and the impact on both employers and employees can prove difficult.

However, the way employers navigate these changes will provide support and goodwill when it is needed most and determine future business success. We examine the most recent updates from Employment New Zealand and provide tips and strategies for supporting employees through 2020.

Supporting staff through redundancies

A workplace change may be stressful for both employers and staff, so the way that you help your employees navigate and manage these big changes will define your business success moving forward. Providing and supporting a fair process will show good faith and avoid personal grievances.

Make sure to:

  • Touch base with staff regularly and remain available throughout the process
  • Provide time off to prepare feedback and for interviews
  • Offer counselling support
  • Offer CV and interview skill trainings and career counselling

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Treating the proposal as accepted before hearing and considering feedback
  • Moving through stages of the process too quickly
  • Being unclear about the proposed structure
  • Giving out confidential information
  • Refusing to disclose all relevant information

More about managing workplace changes (employment.govt.nz)

Hiring critical workers from overseas during COVID restrictions

While the border is closed, employers can still request to hire workers from overseas on the basis of them being ‘other critical workers’ (previously ‘essential workers’). Approval requests from employers will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by Immigration New Zealand, and there are separate criteria for short and long-term workers.

An additional consideration is that approved workers may need to wait for space in managed isolation where capacity is limited. Demand for the mandatory managed isolation is high, and employers must front the costs. This could mean that critical workers are delayed.

More about hiring overseas workers

Additional updates from Employment New Zealand

  • From 1 July, 2020, paid parental leave has been extended from 22 to 26 weeks. Read more
  • The number of ‘keeping in touch’ days for parental leave has also been extended from 52 to 64 hours. Read more
  • The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2019 came into force on 28 June 2020, allowing employees in triangular employment situations (eg. contract work though a temp agency) to include a third party to a personal grievance they have with their employer. Read more