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Chapter 5 of 10

Check your employer responsibilities


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Small business guides > A complete guide to hiring staff > Check your employer responsibilities

Check your employer responsibilities

Congrats on hiring your new employee – a significant turning point for your business. It’s exciting to bring in that first team member or add someone to your growing team. You might have time before your new employee starts, so use it as an opportunity to check your employer responsibilities and make sure you’re well prepared.

Employer responsibilities

Always act in good faith and treat employees fairly

When interacting with employees, every action must be done in good faith. Follow a fair process and be honest at all times.

Allow employees to raise concerns and respond to them immediately. If you have an issue with an employee, discuss it with them as soon as possible and clarify any uncertainties.

For more information, visit the MBIE page on dealing with and avoiding workplace bullying, discrimination, and harassment and ways to prevent and resolve relationship problems between employers and employees.

Pay employees on time

Part of your employer responsibilities is paying employees at the rate specified in the employment agreement. Pay them on the day and frequency stated in the agreement and use the method of payment you agreed on. Make sure you provide your employees with statements of their pay showing any deductions or contributions made.

Deduct the correct amounts

Income tax is one of the deductions made on an employee’s salary or wages. Be sure to deduct the right amount for each pay period based on your employee’s earnings and tax code.

Other payments such as allowances or bonuses may be taxable, so make sure you deduct the correct amount for these payments. Also check if you need to make any other deductions for each pay period.

Online payroll software can automatically do these calculations, so invest in a tool that makes it simple for you.

For more information, visit the IRD page on making PAYE and other deductions.

Know the finer details of leave entitlements and public holidays

Time off is essential for your employee’s health and wellbeing. When they’ve had a break from work, they come back more focused and productive. Understanding the different types of leave and holidays and the rules around them can help you better manage leave for your staff and keep them happy.

Annual leave

Employees take annual leave for rest, recreation, or other personal reasons. Certain conditions apply on when employees become entitled to annual leave, and employment law sets the minimum number of annual leave days that an employee is entitled to. As an employer, you can give your employees extra annual leave days on top of the minimum as an added benefit.

Payment for annual leave is usually at the rate of daily pay, but it may also depend on other rules prescribed by employment law.

Sick leave

Employees can take sick leave if they’re injured or unwell, or to care for a dependant who’s injured or sick. Employment law states the minimum number of sick leave days that an employee is entitled to, but you can give them more as an added benefit. Payment for sick leave is at the rate of daily pay.

Public holidays

Public holidays are considered paid leave, and employees are entitled to take the day off during those days. If employees have to work on public holidays, you must pay them at the rate required by law (which may be different from their daily pay).

Other types of leave

Employees may be entitled to other types of leave such as bereavement leave, parental leave, jury duty, and more. They may also ask to take unpaid leave, and it’s up to you as an employer to allow this or not. Consider your employee’s reasons and discuss the best approach with them.

Keep an accurate and up-to-date record of your employees’ leave. Good payroll software can do that for you.

For more information, visit the MBIE page on leave and holidays.

Health and safety responsibilities of employers

Keeping your employees healthy and safe while they’re at work is a key part of your employer responsibilities. Creating a safe work environment lowers the risk of illness and injury at work, improves the productivity of your employees, and helps you follow workplace health and safety laws.

Workplace health and safety practices

Have reasonable practices in place for the health and safety of your employees, and carry them out as best as you possibly can. Workplace health and safety practices include:

  • providing and maintaining a suitable work environment and facilities

  • providing safe systems of work

  • handling, storing, and using materials at work safely

  • informing and training employees on workplace health and safety

  • monitoring your employees’ health and safety at work

Five questions to ask about the health and safety of your workplace

To fulfil your duty of care and meet your responsibilities as an employer, you need to understand the risks your workplace could present to employees. Here are five questions to ask yourself about your work environment:

  1. What are the health and safety risks in my workplace, particularly those that might cause injury or illness to my employees?

  2. What’s the extent of harm that could result from these risks?

  3. How likely is it that these risks will happen?

  4. How do I eliminate these risks?

  5. If I can’t eliminate them, how do I minimise them?
Workplace health and safety in action

Once you’ve answered the questions about workplace health and safety, it’s time to put measures in place that will reduce the risks into action. Some examples of workplace measures for health and safety are:

  • a health and safety briefing on your employee’s first day at work

  • a way for employees to raise any work-related health and safety concerns and suggest improvements

  • a regular assessment of the work environment

  • safety equipment and training for your employees on how to use it

  • a workplace evacuation plan and clear guidance on what to do in case of an emergency

  • employee assistance programs to provide counselling and support for your employees

  • workplace insurance for your employees (if this is within your budget)

It’s also a good idea to contact a health and safety specialist. They can help with workplace plans, setting up accident registers, and hazard identification.

For more information, visit the MBIE page on health and safety at work and the WorkSafe quick reference guide on health and safety at work.

Protect the privacy of your employees

Another part of your employer responsibilities is keeping your employee’s personal data safe and secure. You’ll need your employee’s permission to keep any sensitive data about them, so if it isn’t relevant, avoid storing information you don’t need about your employee.

If an employee asks for a copy of the information you hold about them, make sure you provide it as soon as possible. Avoid disclosing employee details to unauthorised people, and use employee information for work purposes only.

For more information, visit the MBIE page on employee privacy and the Privacy Commissioner guide to the Privacy Act for employers and employees.

To find out more about your duties as an employer, check out the MBIE page on employment responsibilities.


Chapter 6: Get started with employee forms and onboarding

Now that you’ve hired your employee, it’s time to get them on board. We’ve got some handy checklists to make employee onboarding a breeze.

Read chapter 6