Your employee doesn’t want a Covid vaccination?
While many Kiwis are queuing up and eagerly awaiting their Covid vaccinations, not everyone is willing to take ‘the jab’. Recent headlines of sacked border staff who refused their Covid vaccinations have highlighted the difficulty many employers will face in deciding if their staff can reasonably be required to be vaccinated.
Check your passport is current
With a travel bubble opening with Australia, do check that your passport is still valid before making a reservation.
The Department of Internal Affairs says around 300,000 people currently hold expired passports.
As well as being the best regarded form of identity for AML and other requirements, it would be a pity to have your travel delayed if, at the last minute, you discover your passport has expired. To apply for a new passport go here.
Leave and pay entitlements during Covid response and recovery
Over the past 14 months or so, employers and employees have had to work together during national and regional lockdowns, working from home as a requirement and/or choice and many other employment-related situations. Employment law obligations do not cease during these periods and employers must ensure they are acting in good faith towards their employees, while also trying to navigate these complex and rapidly changing situations.
Covid has thrown up some uncertainties for employers when calculating their employees’ entitlements when they are unable to work from home, self-isolating, unable to travel (where necessary) and so on. The wage subsidy regime was introduced in 2020 to cover a portion of employees’ wages during the first nationwide lockdown and has been reintroduced periodically as needed. In addition, the Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme provides support for employees who cannot work from home or need to self-isolate. To find out more about the Scheme go here.
This is a complex area of employment law and it’s important to get it right. For more information, go here.
If you would like more guidance on ensuring you are paying everyone correctly, please get in touch, we are happy to help.
A reminder about major changes to tenancy laws
This year heralds some significant changes to tenancy laws:
Changes from 11 February 2021: Several changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 took effect on this date. These include an increase to either the 63 or 90 days’ notice period for termination of a periodic tenancy and an increase in the level of awards the Tenancy Tribunal can make from $50,000 to $100,000.
There are further changes that take effect from 1 July and 21 August 2021; and from 1 July 2023 and 1 July 2024.
To read more about this go here.
A variety of clauses to suit different situations
Negotiating commercial leases can involve a significant amount of crystal ball gazing – particularly when some leases can last decades. As recent times have shown, the landscape at the start of a lease can be miles away from the situation at the end of the lease. One area where the shifting sands can bite for long-term leases are the rent figures. Without appropriate rent review clauses to adjust the rent, any landlord could find themselves with a vastly undervalued rental as the lease progresses.
Types of rent review
Not all rent review clauses are alike. There are various methods of calculating changes to rent, these include:
Increasing in popularity
The current combination of increasing living costs, rising house prices and low interest rates has seen more than property-seekers signing up to home loans. On the other side of the coin, some older homeowners are seeking ‘reverse mortgages’ from their lenders in order to release the growing equity in their property.
What is a reverse mortgage?
A reverse mortgage is a lending structure that allows you to access the equity you have accumulated in your home or other property. With a reverse mortgage, you borrow money from a lender using your existing home as security in order to, for example, supplement your living costs or complete renovations rather than for the purpose of acquiring a new property.
Is your property fully insured?
There are potential insurance risks for properties that have shared areas, for example multi-storey town houses, semi-detached homes which share a party wall, and cross lease properties which have carports, the Insurance Council of New Zealand has warned.
If your property does not have a body corporate that manages insurance cover for the whole property, and if you and your neighbours have different insurance providers, you may find that any shared property such as carports, party walls and roofs will not be covered by your insurance.
Extension of Māori Land Court jurisdiction
A significant change to the succession laws relating to Māori land  came into force on 6 February 2021 (Waitangi Day).
Te Puni Kōkiri states that the amendments to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 are intended to better support whānau to succeed to their land by:
Should be reimbursed, but no need for extravagance
When trustees incur expenses, they are not expected to be out of pocket in carrying out their responsibilities. Trustees are entitled to use trust money or to get a refund from the trust fund if they incur expenses in carrying out their duties. Trustees’ expenses, however, must be fair and reasonable. A recent case shows why it is also important to be sure that you can trust your trustee not to take advantage of the right to claim expenses.
Carrying out a trustee’s obligations and responsibilities can take up much time and some expenses can be incurred in doing this. Trustees are not usually entitled to charge a fee for their time, unless the trust deed or will allows them to do this. The trustees are, however, at least entitled to have their expenses met from the trust fund, provided the expenses are fair and reasonable. If the trustee has to pay for anything personally, the trustee is entitled to be reimbursed.
Disclosure of trust information to beneficiaries
The Trusts Act 2019 came into force on 30 January 2021. One major topic of discussion arising from the new Act has been the provisions governing disclosure of trust information to beneficiaries.
The purpose of the new disclosure provisions is to ensure that beneficiaries have sufficient information to enable the terms of the trust and the trustees’ duties to be enforced against the trustees. Historically, in some trusts, disclosure of information has been very limited, and beneficiaries often do not find out they are beneficiaries, or that they are entitled to trust information, for many years. This makes it difficult for beneficiaries to know who to contact, or what kind of information to request, to ensure the trustees are doing their job properly.
Some options for offering shares
The Covid pandemic has paved the way for innovation, and many New Zealanders spent 2020 investing time and money into their new or existing businesses.
When raising capital to grow their business, however, many business owners find themselves limited by the size of their wallet. While interest rates are currently at an all-time low, trading banks’ lending terms are arguably the strictest in recent memory.
Vaping now treated the same as tobacco smoking
New Zealand laws have finally caught up with vaping (also called e-cigarettes) that have, for some time, enjoyed freedom from the country’s strict tobacco regulation.
Since 11 November 2020, however, all vaping products and behaviours must now be treated the same as for tobacco products and smokers. All businesses and employers should be aware of the changes to SmokeFree legislation; for retailers of any vaping-related products these changes are especially important.