Employers can’t change employment agreements due to covid-19

The NZCTU has published an advisory for employees stating that employers can’t change an employment agreement because of covid-19 (or ever) without all parties agreeing to the change.

The union says any changes to current employment agreements have to be agreed to and can’t have life after things go back to normal.

Changes to contracts have to be done in “good faith”, says the union.

“You have to have a say, you need to be given time to consider them and seek advice and you can’t be threatened to accept any change – for example ‘If you don’t to this, I will have to let you go’.

“So you can’t be given a new working from home employment agreement. However, if you are at home and not sick or caring for someone else, your employer can require you to work from home if that is possible.”

The union statement continues: “The law says that any changes to employment agreements must be talked about and agreed in good faith.

“Good faith means that you and your employer, as well as your union, must be honest with each other and actively communicate.

“In particular, if your employer wants to make changes that would make it hard for you to carry on with your job, they have to give you all the information and give you the chance to have your say before they make their final decision.

Your employer can’t change your contract without your agreement. They can’t tell you to “take it or leave it,” or threaten to fire you unless you agree.

If you have a collective contract, your employer must negotiate any changes with your union.

If you have an individual contract, your employer must give you a copy of any changes they want to make and give you a chance to get advice from someone you trust. Then your employer must listen and respond to any questions or issues you have.

“Your contract can’t lower or take away your rights under the law.”