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Holiday’s Act Nightmare

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

It’s time businesses took a hard look at the job of their often low-paid and overwhelmed payroll staff, says a top employment lawyer, as New Zealand continues to grapple with the nightmare of historical holiday leave underpayments.

Ernst Young (EY) Law employment law leader Christie Hall said businesses need to rethink payroll office function with new holiday pay and leave legislation still years away despite the current Holidays Act review, and enforced remediation payments to underpaid staff – present and past – piling up.

Getting professional advice was becoming essential given remediation payment obligations could send some small to medium businesses under because they had not factored the labour cost into their product pricing in the six years since government policing of employer obligations started.

With consultants finding payroll problems throughout the country – the result of companies struggling to interpret law anchored in 1970s regimented workplace situations against a much more flexible and variable hours 2018 labour environment – Hall said calling in professional help was becoming a necessity.

“This is partly because payroll people haven’t been equipped to do their jobs properly in the current environment.

“Our payroll people today are managing a massive amount of money, managing financial risk, managing an incredibly complex and quite frankly not-fit-for-purpose piece of legislation that doesn’t always accord with the guidance that goes with it.

“They’re managing a regulator (MBIE) who is also on a learning curve. They’re managing pieces of software that often don’t talk to each other. Often time-and-attendance software isn’t linked to the payroll software,” Hall said.

“In many organisations they’re also managing a whole range of different contracting requirements and a whole range of workplace practices.

“Put all that together and you pay someone $30,000 to $40,000 and call them a wages clerk and you wonder why you get a problem.”

A Government taskforce reviewing the 2003 Holidays’ Act is due to update its latest findings and progress any day. The taskforce’s final report is due out in June with any new resulting legislation at least two years away.


*Article courtesy of The New Zealand Herald www.nzherald.co.nz