This article outlines 11 common areas of HR and H&S responsibilities that typically catch employers out. Read on to learn how to avoid the same mistakes!

 1. Missing or out of date employment records

Under the Employment Relations Act 2000 and Holidays Act 2003, keeping accurate employee records is not an option! Good record-keeping allows your business to be compliant with current legislation and ensures that you’re meeting your obligations as an employer, regarding minimum wage rates, hours of work and annual leave. Record-keeping also prevents misunderstandings and protects both you and your employee if there’s a dispute.

As an employer, it’s a legal requirement that you keep accurate wage, time, holiday and leave records for at least seven years – even if your employee has left your business!

Using HRA Cloud, you can run a report to check that your necessary employee records are complete and up-to-date. In addition, the HRA Cloud enables you to generate employment documents, such as contracts and policies, and automatically saves them against the employee record.

 2. Using the incorrect employment agreement

If you’ve ramped up staffing to cope with increased demand, double-check you’ve chosen the right employment arrangement.

When you’re not an expert, it can be hard to determine whether a casual, fixed-term, or permanent contract arrangement works best. Sometimes an employee can start as casual but working conditions change, and they end up not being casual anymore!

HRA Cloud is full of employment agreements that you can use to ensure that you engage your workforce most appropriately. If in doubt, you can always call the Telephone Advisory Service and our team of workplace advisors will walk you through it.

3. Skipping the H&S induction

Every business should have a workforce who understands the processes in place to help manage workplace safety (i.e. reporting accidents, fire evacuation plans etc.), and their role when it comes to protecting themselves and others from harm at work.

Have all your workers completed an H&S induction?

It’s crucial that you ensure all your workers have completed the H&S induction and that you keep a record of this in their employee or contractor records for easy reference and auditability.

Could some of your workforce benefit from re-doing the H&S induction?

If it’s been a while since your employees have had their H&S induction, or if there’s been a few new changes to your H&S management system, it could be time for an H&S refresher!

Think about instigating practices that require your workforce to undertake the H&S induction process annually. This process is a great way to strengthen your safety culture at work and helps ensure workplace safety policies and procedures are routine practice.

4. Infrequent H&S training assessments

To build a positive safety culture, you need people to be equipped with the skills and know-how to lead health and safety at work. Regular assessments to ensure you’re providing adequate supervision and H&S training to your workforce are fundamental for upskilling and encouraging consistent safety participation in your workplace.

If you provide on-the-job training, make sure your employees demonstrate that they understand their training and continue to monitor their competence.

It’s a lot easier to make sure your workforce is skilled up on H&S with HRA Cloud. You can use the H&S management system to capture training and competency data and set up alerts and reminders so you can spot skill gaps and reduce potential training risks. Plus, you can run a report to identify all the training and competencies that have lapsed and not been renewed or review any certifications that expire soon. With this foresight, you can build H&S competency refreshers into your employees’ training plans.

5. Letting workplace policies gather dust

Introducing robust and compliant workplace policies is good business practice. But, if you don’t enforce your policies, they’re meaningless and won’t protect your business in the event of a claim.

Here are four helpful pointers for making sure your policies are effective:

  1. Formally communicate policies to all employees;
  2. Keep records of how and when you communicate your policies to your employees;
  3. Save version histories of your policies and make sure you re-communicate policies with every update; and
  4. Retain such evidence in the employee record.

By using HRA Cloud, you can ensure that all your workers have access to your workplace policies. Use the employee management system to store a library of the policies you have in place within your business and keep an auditable record of every policy your employees have read.  And the best part? The employee Self-Service portal means your employees can access, read and acknowledge your policies online, from any internet-connected device. 

You should also regularly review your policies to check that they haven’t fallen out of step with current legislation. It’s great that your business has done the work to put policies and procedures in place, but remember, they also need to be kept up to date. Use the policies in HRA Cloud (which are kept up to date whenever the law changes) to ensure your policies are compliant all the time!

6. Forgettable onboarding experiences

Research shows that poor onboarding and high turnover often go hand in hand. It should come as no surprise that disappointment in the early stages of a new job often leads to an employee’s super-speedy departure.

A well-thought-out onboarding process that introduces new employees to the business’s values and culture at the outset of employment is the best way to help new hires hit the ground running.

How well do you look after new employees?

Use HRA Cloud to help ease new hires into your organisation. The pre-employment workflows help ensure employment records are complete on commencement. And, the platform provides easy access to HR and H&S policies for viewing, acknowledgement, and ultimately enforcement.

Use the induction workflows to adopt a consistent induction process that has all your bases covered.

7. Misuse of contractor agreements

Hiring someone as an independent contractor when they should be an employee is a common pitfall for employers. This mix up is referred to as sham contracting and can result in stiff penalties, regardless of whether it was unintentional.

Do you know the relevant contractor tests?

If you’re hiring contractors, make sure your workers meet the relevant legal tests that distinguish a contractor from an employee. It’s not always that clear, so remember to call the Telephone Advisory Service if you have any questions.

Drive even greater efficiency and make managing contractors easy by using HRA Cloud’s Contractor Module; it’s packed with resources and has a compliant contractor agreement builder to help you manage contractor engagement and records without any fuss.

8. Forgetting that volunteers need to know about H&S too

As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you must consult with all workers affected by workplace health and safety, including volunteers.

Three simple ways to include volunteers in your H&S processes are:

  1. Ensure volunteers are inducted and aware of standard safety protocols;
  2. Conduct regular H&S training with all workers; and
  3. Invite volunteers to participate in H&S consultations if appropriate.

9. Unpaid graduates and interns

In New Zealand, unpaid internships must benefit the individual as a genuine training or learning opportunity. The more an internship starts to look like work, the more likely it is work, and you must pay them.

Are you inadvertently underpaying interns and graduates?

Always double-check your unpaid internship contracts carefully. Is it clear that the relationship is a voluntary one (not an employment one)? Here, you want to make sure that you’re not inadvertently underpaying your interns and breaching workplace laws.

If you have any doubt in this tricky area of employment, a thorough HR Assured audit will identify any underpayment risks immediately.

10. Keeping up to date with the latest legislation

HR and H&S priorities, case law and legislation are constantly evolving in workplace relations. As a business leader, you should try to stay on top of your HR and H&S obligations by paying attention to upcoming changes to employment law.

One way to do this is to look into conferences, seminars or other learning opportunities to send your HR team or other management persons to attend. You could also read blogs and articles (like this one) or subscribe to newsletters. Alternatively, you could partner with an outsourced HR solution like HR Assured where you’ll always be up to date with the latest legislation.

11. Health and safety: failing to manage hazards and incidents

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing workplace, it’s easy to let your hazard and incident registers fall behind. But it’s critical (life-savingly so) to prioritise health and safety management in your workplace, especially the below tasks:

  • eliminating hazards and marking them as complete;
  • putting measures in place to protect your people from hazards you can’t eliminate;
  • closing off any incident reports and ensuring you’ve taken necessary precautions to prevent the same incident or accident from happening again; and
  • ensuring your registers and H&S documents are regularly reviewed and updated.

A reliable online H&S management system like HRA Cloud will help you keep your H&S registers current and allow you to identify controls to manage H&S risks without getting lost in paperwork. To take your H&S management to the next level, consider engaging an independent review of your risk registers. Sometimes an outsider’s perspective can help you identify new actions and controls that help to enhance your workplace safety.

Have a question about H&S, HR or the information in this article?

If you’re an HR Assured client, contact our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.

 Not an HR Assured client and need some advice? The team at HR Assured can support your business on a range of workplace matters. Contact us today to arrange a confidential, no-obligation chat.