Employers must check Force Majeure in employment contracts

Judith Collins

Judith Collins

Wellington, March 8, 2023

Thanks for helping neighbours and friends in times of need: Judith Collins, Elected Member of Parliament from Papakura (National Party)

These are uncertain times as we have experienced several recent extreme weather events which have disrupted our normal business and working lives.

The recent weather events have often made it impossible for businesses to function due to flooding, power outages or other damage to premises and plants or by physically preventing access by employees to their places of work.

Check Employment Contracts

The question for employers and employees in these cases is what happens when normal operations are suspended due to a disaster?

The answer is firstly that ordinary employment laws apply.

It is suggested that everyone checks their employment contracts for business interruptions, ‘force Majeure’ or shift cancellation clauses.

Following that, any employee willing and able to work must continue to be paid. If the employer cannot operate due to damage to premises or plant or stock or for any other reason related to a disaster event, the employee is still seen as ‘able ‘and therefore needs to be paid.

If an employee cannot get to work due to personal transport or because of childcare responsibilities, then there may not be an obligation on the employer to pay.

In either situation, the employer and the employee do need to discuss options like the employee taking unpaid leave or discretionary leave or working reduced hours, temporarily.

A written record must be made of the altered arrangements and the employee must be free to agree or not, to them.

Employers should know that some employees might be eligible for Civil Defence payments that will cover loss of income during the current state of emergency in New Zealand.

Further information is on 0800-400100 during business hours Monday to Saturday and from 8 am to 1 pm on Sundays. Regions , where employees can have this relief applied to them, are listed at www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/civil-defence-payment.html.

This also provides links to other MSD services available, at the moment, for Cyclone victims.

Infographics Courtesy: Heretik Company

A New School at Auranga

I attended the opening of the new Ngakoroa School in Auranga last week.

It is a Year One to Eight School and has beautiful modern facilities and equipment including a huge hall for events and sports. This was where 120 guests, the teaching team, the staff, the children and their families assembled after the Powhiri, for the formal opening and welcoming speeches. The Prime Minister was there and he spoke to the children about the significance of the tree that he and I planted at the conclusion of the ceremony.

But the highlight was the children standing up in pairs to say thank you to all the people and organisations who had helped to design, produce, build and create the beautiful spaces, the beautiful landscaping and the play areas and sports equipment. It was a long list!

My special thanks to the two children, Lucas and Sana, who took me on a tour of the school. They were very polite, very knowledgeable and thorough in performing their hosting duties.

Having just opened, the school has 60 pupils and it is following Ministry of Education guidelines that children must be in a zone to attend for at least the next three years.

This will keep the school roll low for some time until the new houses are built in Auranga and the new families move into them.

Judith Collins with children at the newly opened Ngakoroa School in Auranga (Facebook Photo)

Auckland Council Budget Consultation

Auckland Council wants to save about $ 16 million this year in the 2023/24 budget which is part of the 10-year budget 2021-2031.

In the Papakura Local Board area, for example, this means cuts of $866,000 for this year.

I would suggest that everyone needs to see how they will be affected by looking online at https://youtu.be/uQtntAdMzWQ and reading how your local board’s spending will be cut. Then, to have your say, go on the akhaveyoursay.nz website.

New Zealand Census March 2023

Please complete your census information online using the information and unique number that you have received in your letterbox or fill in the physical forms delivered in some areas.

I would like to thank again everyone who took part in rescuing and helping their neighbours, friends and strangers in communities across the upper North Island in the aftermath of the weather that started on 27 January.

Many communities in the Papakura Electorate have been affected and have not been in the news. But they also have got red stickered homes and have lost most of their possessions.

They, along with all the others on the Auckland West coast, North Auckland, Northland, Coromandel, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne, have suffered and we need to continue to be caring and compassionate towards them.

Judith Collins has been an elected Member of Parliament (National Party) since 2002 (Clevedon and later Papakura electorate). 

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