Monthly Archives: March 2012

LESSONS FROM MFAT: PRAY, DO YOGA, GET A PET?

While MFAT trims the fat from its Ministry in staff cuts which have been described in leaked cables as ‘Armageddon like’, employees have allegedly been advised to ‘pray, do yoga or get a pet’ to help cope with the  turmoil.  

It is no wonder that the employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade are disgruntled. Chief Executive John Allen announced the drastic changes in employment will force 600 to reapply for their jobs and leave 300 out of work . The issue is a classic employment law dilemma where unleashing proposals without giving thought to the human result can lead to catastrophe.

The irony of the matter is that the reapplication process, designed to sort the wheat from the chaff and make the Ministry more efficient, is actually forcing those most capable, secure and confident to seriously consider leaving. According to a survey released by the Foreign Services Association,  73% of MFAT staff currently posted abroad are considering returning to New Zealand or resigning after their posting, while 66% of those here in Wellington are less likely to consider postings and 25% are considering resigning.

The bottom line according to Foreign Service Association President Warren Fraser is “hardly anyone will want to serve New Zealand abroad under the proposed changes”.  It’s a sentiment that PSA national secretary Brenda Pilott agrees with, who says that “we are currently pushing our best and brightest to look elsewhere for jobs.”

Foreign Minister Murray McCully is listening, and while the proposal is on hold he is pushing for a sensible balance between taxpayer confidence in the efficiency of the Ministry and investment in the Ministry’s talent base. Prime Minister John Key is also indicating cuts may not be as aggressive as those outlined in the original proposal.  But it may be a case of too little too late for the 73% already seriously considering resignation.

The turmoil at MFAT holds a lesson for all employers large or small. Before hitting the panic button, first consider the human response.   Sometimes yoga isn’t enough to save your business, and f you need help or advice in this area the best thing to do is to contact us at Buckett Law. We have the experience to provide solutions and nip employment issues in the bud before they become a problem.

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DOTCOM DILEMMAS IN YOUR WORKPLACE

PREVENTING ILLEGAL DOWNLOADING AT WORK:

HOW EMPLOYERS MAY BE AT RISK

The recent Kim Dotcom saga has placed the issue of illegal downloading back in the media spotlight. Although the Megaupload case involved a global business that allegedly facilitated millions of illegal downloads per day, the issue of illegal downloading has implications much closer to home or indeed the workplace.

The Issue in New Zealand

The Copyright Amendment Act 2011 which came into force in September last year aims to crack down on illegal file sharing, (for example downloading music, movies, and software. In this new regime the employer, who comes into the definition of ‘account holder’, can be found responsible for an employee’s illegal use of the internet.

Who Are You Responsible To?

Copyright owners of the downloaded or uploaded content can seek compensation under the Act.  As an employer YOU could be hit with a fine of up to $15,000.

• FIRST… The internet service provider (eg Telecom, Telstra Clear, Slingshot) will be issued a detection notice of illegal file sharing by a copyright owner.

• THEN…Under the Act the ISP is required to serve notice of the infringement on their account holder. In an employment context THIS WILL BE YOU and not the individual employee. The notice will follow a’ three strike’ regime

3 STRIKES AND YOU COULD BE OUT OF POCKET BY $15,000

STRIKE 1

First detection notice for a first infringement

STRIKE 2

Warning notice for a second infringement

STRIKE 3

Enforcement notice for a third infringement

If it gets to an enforcement notice, the copyright owner can take their case to the copyright tribunal which has the power to fine you up to $15,000. Under this law the District Court also has the power to suspend your internet account for up to 6 months. This is currently not in force and is not expected to be until 2013. However the Government can bring it into force at any time if it sees fit.

Is This An Issue In My Workplace?

Red Flags

If your employees are accessing their favourite TV programmes, movies, or music on sites like Kim’s megaupload without paying for them then there is potential for copyright infringement. Names like limewire, utorrent, bittorrent or frostwire on your workplace computer system are warning signs that this could be happening. If so, it is better to nip this practice in the bud before it becomes a financial headache for your business.

WE RECOMMEND YOU…

• Know the rules,  nip any potentially illegal practice in the bud

• Audit all workplace computers to check for installation of any file-sharing programmes, if you find them uninstall immediately

• Consider an addendum to your employee internet usage policy clearly outlining that illegal file sharing could be considered grounds for serious misconduct

• Make sure your current internet usage policy is as clear and concise as possible

• If you receive a notice, do not ignore it but bear in mind it can be challenged

WE HAVE THE TOOLS TO HELP…

Our Copyright Infringement Kit

We can work with you to…

– provide clear policies on internet use

– offer employment agreements spelling out permitted use and penalties

– give advice on protecting your business from loss and damage resulting from internet infringement.

NEED TO KNOW MORE?

Contact the team Buckett Law- the employment law specialists and get the policies not the problem!

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Hello world it’s BuckettLaw

Barbara Buckett and the team at BuckettLaw are excited to bring you our brand spanking new blog. Here we will keep you updated on regular developments in the wild world of employment and labour law.

We will offer our opinion on employment stories under the media spotlight  as well as sharing tips and tools to help both employers and employees  navigate their way through legal jargon and nip workplace disputes in the bud.

Barbara is the employment law expert, a highly respected senior solicitor with 30 years experience practicing as an employment lawyer. She has a proven track record in delivering excellent results for clients and is here to help you.

If you feel lost in the workplace wilderness and need someone to steer you in the right direction contact the team at BuckettLaw

 04 4728600