Savvy HR Consultants Tauranga
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Welcome to our Savvy HR Newsletter.

We thought it timely to provide a newsletter for our clients, employers, associates and friends of Savvy HR. We aim to give you the latest Human Resources and Employment information and hopefully you find the content interesting, relevant and our commentary topical. Of course you are welcome to forward to anyone who you may feel is interested and also let us know your feedback. As is always the case if you do not wish to receive our newsletter please unsubscribe at the bottom of the page.

This month we look at learnings from a recent case in the Employment Relations Authority on an unpaid 'on the job trial', give you some tips on how you can more effectively go about having candidates experience the workplace before you offer employment, look at some key changes coming into effect in May from the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 and tell you about Domestic Violence Leave that came into effect on 1 April 2019 . We also update you on the Savvy HR team - Debra Eley, some of you know already is our Recruitment Consultant and Morwenna Tutt, our HR Consultant.

Kind regards,

Kym and the Savvy HR team

Unpaid 'Trial' Costs Employer $9000


Helen Mawhinney, a Wellington cafe worker, has been awarded nearly $9000 after she worked a full shift only to be told afterward it was an unpaid trial.

Mawhinney worked eight hours at Sfizio Limited's Wadestown Kitchen and claimed she had been constructively dismissed. Sfizio denied Mawhinney's allegations, alleging she had agreed to undertake an unpaid competency assessment over a portion of a day in the hope of obtaining a position at the cafe.

At the end of an interview for the role, it was agreed Mawhinney would attend the Wadestown Kitchen cafe the next day. Mawhinney claimed she worked a full shift, from 8.00am to 4.00pm, where she undertook a range of tasks. At the end of the shift, Mawhinney alleges she was told that it was an "unpaid trial."

Later that evening the employer sent Mawhinney a text message apologising for any confusion about the day being an unpaid trial and was offered a job.  Mawhinney replied by text message four days later to decline the job and demanded she be paid for her completed shift.  The employer then responded that they don't pay for trial days, claiming those on trial are not a "productive member of the team and you can leave whenever you like. It is not a day of work”, and that they were formally rescinding the job offer.

The employer explained to the authority that they never offer employment to a prospective employee before they undertake a competency assessment but agreed that arrangements around Mawhinney's attendance at the cafe on had not been recorded in writing.

Mawhinney told the authority that at the end of the interview Parfitt told her she was "exactly what we are looking for" and that they could "give 30 hours per week but the work might be stretched between the two cafes” and that she believed the request for her to work a full shift meant that she had gotten the job.  

In the authority's determination, Michele Ryan said she was not satisfied that those matters surrounding the shift were conveyed. Ryan added that the line between Mawhinney participating in a competency assessment and having her engage in work was crossed, and that work performed contributed to the business and provided it with an economic benefit. It was established that Mawhinney was indeed an employee of Sfizio and that their actions amounted to constructive dismissal.  

Mawhinney was awarded $7000 compensation, $1890 (gross) for four weeks' notice and $119.07 (gross) for the work performed.

Savvy Tips - Get Workplace Experiences Right

Further to our article above, here are our tips to help mitigate the risk if you want to have a candidate experience the workplace during the recruitment process.

  1. Do not call the experience a trial. Use words like "workplace experience", "on site exposure", "role familiarisation", "team meet and greet". Think about the purpose you want the candidate to come in for and fit the title accordingly.
  2. Consider an informal meeting for the candidate to meet the team to get a gauge for how the candidate fits in with your work environment and gets along with the team. This could be held over a coffee or a team lunch.
  3. If you do need to assess the candidate's skills on the job, decide what competencies you are looking for and what tasks he/she will undertake. Consider whether the competency can be assessed off site and in another form of assessment.
  4. Allocate only a short time for the workplace experience, 1-4 hours maximum.
  5. Ensure the candidate agrees to the date, time and purpose of the experience and follow this up in writing.
  6. Ensure all candidates are being assessed in the same way.
  7. Do not informally or formally offer a job at any time during the workplace experience - wait until you have fully completed the recruitment process and offer the role formally to avoid any confusion.
  8. Be sure that you are not using the candidate's time or skills in exchange for "free labour" or economic gain for your business.

Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018


The Employment Relations Amendment Act was passed by Parliament on 5 December 2018. The second lot of changes come into effect on Monday 6 May 2019.

A few of the changes that may impact your business are:

  • 90-day trial periods will be restricted to businesses with less than 20 employees.
  • Employees in specified ‘vulnerable industries’ will be able to transfer on their current terms and conditions in their employment agreement if their work is restructured, regardless of the size of their employer.
  • The right to set rest and meal breaks will be restored, the number and duration of which depends on the hours worked. For example, an eight-hour work day must include two 10-minute rest breaks and one 30-minute meal break, while a four-hour work day must include one 10-minute rest break.
  • Employers and employees will agree when employees take their breaks. If they cannot agree, the law will require the breaks to be in the middle of the work period, so long as it’s reasonable and practicable to do so.
  • Some limited exemptions may apply for employers in specified essential services or national security services.

Changes also include a longer notice period for employees to elect to transfer to the new employer; this notice period is a minimum of 10 working days.  


Domestic Violence Leave

Domestic Violence

The Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act 2018 came into effect on 1 April 2019.

The new law entitles employees affected by domestic violence to up to 10 days of paid domestic violence leave per year, in order to deal with the effects of domestic violence. Employees will be able to take this leave as needed – similar to the existing sick leave and bereavement leave provisions. Domestic violence is also known as family violence, and is not just physical violence. It can take many forms.

It does not matter when the domestic violence took place. The employee still has these rights if they experienced domestic violence before they began working for their current employer or before these changes to the law.

Employees will also be able to request a short-term variation to their working arrangements (up to two months or shorter) to which the employer must respond to urgently and within 10 working days. The variation can include changes to hours of work, location and duties of work. This is similar, and in addition to, the existing rights employees have to make a flexible working request.

The law also explicitly prohibits an employee being treated adversely in their employment on the grounds that they are, or are suspected to be, a person affected by domestic violence.

Meet The Team

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We've been a bit remiss in formally introducing you to Debra Eley and Morwenna Tutt. Debra has been with Savvy HR for a year and is our fantastic Recruitment Consultant. Debra has a BA (Hons) and a post grad diploma in Human Resources among other qualifications. Debra has many years experience both here in NZ and in the UK and is exceptional at all facets of recruitment, including coordinating, communicating and seeing what others may not.

Morwenna Tutt has recently joined us as an HR Consultant. Morwenna has a Bachelor of Business Studies, and majored in Human Resources Management. She has over 13 years experience working various Human Resource and leadership roles, and has 2 years consulting experience.  Morwenna loves implementing both best practice and innovative solutions to support organisations to achieve great results through their people.  Morwenna moved to the Bay two years ago for a better lifestyle with her young family and it's safe to say she's in love with the place.

I look forward to you having the opportunity to work with both Debra and Morwenna in the near future and hope you will enjoy both their technical competence as well as their engaging and real approach to HR and recruitment.

We love doing business with you and so if there is anything you feel we can do better, anything you want to see more or less of or if there is anything you think we should know about please feel free to drop me a line.

All the best for a great month ahead.

Savvy HR Limited

Do you need HR Consultants who:

  • understand the people issues in your business?
  • are local and work with local businesses?
  • care about the performance of your team and your business?
  • will be proactive in supporting you?
  • are responsive and understand the value of good communication?


Contact the Team

Phone: 0800 Savvy HR

Kym Gibson - Director
Debra Eley- Recruitment Consultant


Golf Road Business Centre
Unit 8, 55 Golf Road
Mount Maunganui 3116


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