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2010 Publications

6 December 2010

The round of Christmas parties in the district is now in full swing. Have you ever greeted your employees or co-workers with a peck on the cheek or did you get carried away at that work function and make a sexual innuendo in jest? Beware the cost may be high.  More...

22 November 2010

The Government passed a special law, with The Hobbit in mind, to say that if film production workers are called "contractors" in their employment agreement then that is what they are. They cannot claim they are really "employees".  Two recent cases in the hospitality sector make plain why the Government was wise in targeting just the film industry and not making the law one of universal application.  More...

26 October 2010

The case concerning Ontrack, Allied and a member of the work gang may have huge ramifications for all temping agencies and their clients.  More...

11 October 2010

The current public argument between actors and Hollywood film companies through Peter Jackson, in relation to the upcoming Hobbit film, contains age-old themes.

The themes debated include the benefits and difficulties associated with unionism. They include the fact that we live in an international marketplace, and they include the issue of whether people who are paid for their labour should be classified as employees or contractors.  More...

27 September 2010

Two ship workers were recently denied interim reinstatement after being dismissed by the same employer in the course of a drug-use investigation.  More...

11 September 2010

The reinstatement of two Customs officers allegedly involved in leaking sensitive information about a colleague to media highlights the issues around broken-down employment relationships. More...

30 August 2010

Last year the Government introduced the 90-day trial period. It is a law that many may have thought allowed employers to dismiss new employees without risk of a personal grievance. Wellington woman Heather Smith has driven a hole through that theory in a case recently decided by the Employment Court.

It appears the flagship 90-day legislation has struck an iceberg and taken on considerable water. This is despite publicity surrounding the law and the significance attributed to it by the Government.  More...

14 August 2010

A recent Employment Court decision upheld the reinstatement of a court employee, despite finding she was guilty of serious misconduct.

The decision highlights the difference between the current test for dismissal and three of the new laws proposed by the Government that will alter the test and this area of the law generally. Under the proposed changes this decision would almost certainly have gone the other way.  More...

31 July 2010

A Court of Appeal decision upholding workers' rights to an extra week's long-service leave above the legal minimum four weeks may encourage other workers to have leave reinstated that was removed when the Holidays Act came into force. View article (pdf 121kb)

30 July 2010

Helen Kelly, the president of the Council of Trade Unions, wrote to the prime minister this week announcing what The Dominion Post called "a divorce between unions and the government". The letter was prompted by the announcement of legislative change by the National Government in the employment law area.

It seems that industrial relations will once again be a key issue in the divide between National and Labour. In fact, there are almost 40 proposed changes to employment law as it stands in the Government's various announcements. Overall, the changes clearly favour employers, as one would expect from a National government.  More...

21 July 2010

In the 1990 case of the caretakers union and GN Hale & Sons, a company in the Hutt Valley decided to contract out its cleaning work and make Mr Shrubshall redundant.

The Employment Court decided that in order to justify a redundancy the company virtually had to show that it would otherwise go to the wall. More...

3 July 2010

Like many countries around the world, New Zealand is in the grip of football fever.

Many readers will have seen the English goal disallowed by Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda replayed many times on television. Fortunately, most goals hit the back of the net and make the referee's job relatively easy.

The football World Cup has arrived in New Zealand along with the worst elements of winter. So, genuine sickness, "sickies" and "acts of God" have also hit us. Snow closing the Rimutaka hill road is the most obvious "act of God" for people in the Wellington area during winter, preventing Wairarapa workers from getting to work.  More...

21 June 2010

Benjamin Franklin said that nothing is certain in life except death and taxes. But there is a perception that for shrewd businesses and the wealthy, death is the only certainty. Our tax legislation has provisions to prevent tax avoidance, but the courts have always allowed people to arrange their affairs in ways that minimise their tax.

Much publicity was given to the case of two well known orthopaedic surgeons who rearranged their practices so that they lowered their tax liability. Ian Penny is a surgeon to famous sportspeople. Gary Hooper is the head of orthopaedics and musculoskeletal medicine at Otago University's Christchurch campus. Both set up largely family trust-owned companies that purchased their practices.  More...

22 May 2010

Wellington has its share of leaking homes, but it also has more than its share of other leaks. When a government's popularity is on the wane or its policies are disliked, the odd civil servant is inclined to leak information to opposition politicians or the media. This can be dangerous and may result in the dismissal of the leaker. It may also result in the dismissal of those people who know about it but do nothing.  More...

7 May 2010

 

Workers tend to think that if they walk like a duck and talk like a duck, they must be a duck. That is, they think they must be an employee of the organisation that they appear to do work for. Usually this is the case, but not always.

Labour hire companies employ workers who can sometimes be assigned to work for years at a particular organisation, and are under the control of that organisation for the duration of the assignment.  Sometimes the workers are then "dismissed"from their work at the organisation when the labour hire company is told to move them on by the client. The jargon for this is "triangular employment". More...

15 April 2010

Workplace bullying in New Zealand is rife according to new research - with this country ranking amongst the worst in the world

Listen to clip (including comment from David Burton, Partner at Cullen) (duration: 2'30?)

14 April 2010

A blog about "behind the scenes" insights into police work recently got a British police officer into trouble, so be careful what you write in cyberspace. More...

17 March 2010


People can be treated wrongly whatever their earnings or seniority and all should have access to justice
, Peter Cullen says. New proposals on taking a personal grievance case would exclude the better off.

Many readers will remember the case Martyn Turner took against his employer Ogilvy & Mather (NZ) Ltd. The case started in the early 1990s and made its way to our Court of Appeal. Popular Employment Court Judge Derek Castle first heard the case. More...

24 February 2010


The outcome of Phillip Dickson's case against Idea Services, a part of IHC New Zealand, has sent seismic waves through organisations providing services and care to the disabled.

The court decisions will have a far wider reach than the disabled care community. It is becoming apparent, in light of several other recent claims, that the Dickson case will change the legal obligations for many industries employing "sleepover" staff. More...

5 February 2010

Readers will be aware of the legislation introduced by the National Party in 2009 regarding trial employment periods more...

Cullen - The Employment Law Firm is one of only eleven law firms in New Zealand approved to provide employment law services to Government and the public sector.

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