The Return to Work (RTW) Plan
If an employee needs to take an extended break from work due to illness, injury or surgery, a RTW Plan is a positive tool to help them return to work safely, productively and in the right mindset.

Having a plan ensures you and your employee are on the same page and gives everyone some structure and something to work towards.

Having a policy to support your planning is not essential, but it can be beneficial as it lets your employees know that your business supports return to work plans. A policy should clearly outline what is required from you and your employee in the event of an extended absence from work.

Be proactive
As soon as it’s apparent the employee will be away from work, sit down with them and get an understanding of how long they are likely to be off work.

Not all situations require a RTW Plan. We generally recommend doing a plan if the expected time away from work is greater than two weeks or if there will be a reduction or change in their ability to return to usual duties (short or long-term) as a result of the employee’s illness/injury/surgery.

If the expected time is more than three months, talk with an HR Adviser as you may need to consider significant changes to manage the workload or whether termination of employment is appropriate.

The paperwork
The employee should be asked to provide a current certificate of capacity from their treating specialist, medical professional and/or ACC case manager. This will be used to provide information regarding:

  • how long the employee is expected to be absent from work
  • whether the employee is expected to return at full capacity or with reduced duties, or a temporary or permanent change in duties
  • whether the employee is needing to take a gradual approach to return to work in terms of days and hours
  • current limitations in terms of mental and physical capacity

Writing the RTW Plan
No two RTW plans are the same; each plan is tailored to the employee and their individual situation. Agree the terms of the plan with the employee. It should include these key things:

  • days and hours of work, including whether working from home is an option
  • physical limitations associated with their usual duties
  • any contributing information from medical professionals and/or ACC case managers
  • date expected to achieve a full return to work
  • workplace support, e.g. review of the employee’s workstation
  • review dates for the plan
  • ongoing information required from medical professionals and/or ACC case managers
  • any payroll instructions, e.g. sick leave payments, unpaid leave etc.

The importance of checking in…
A plan goes a long way to dialling down the stress, but because there are so many variables in play, you need to have some flexibility to change the plan. This means planned check-ins with the employee are important as you want them to stay connected while they are not at work. Talking with them will help you keep on top of things in the event the plan needs to be modified.

At the outset the big unknown is how quickly the employee is able to become productive again. Keeping in contact will give you a sense of whether they are champing at the bit to start work again or needing to take extra time. Good communication will help to get the balance right.

If you have any questions about RTW Plans give us a call anytime on 07 823 3250 or send us an email  [email protected].

Government has announced a new wage subsidy, specifically for apprentices.

The “Apprenticeship Boost” wage subsidy scheme kicks off from 1st August this year, to help employers retain and employ new apprentices while dealing with the effects of COVID-19.

Read more

There are times when checklists come in really handy, and I think this month is one of those times. We all have a lot on our plate, so I have kept this checklist brief, but practical.

1. Wage Subsidy Key Dates & Actions

  • The application date for the current wage subsidy ends 9 June.
  • If you qualify for the Wage Subsidy Extension payment (8-week payment), you can apply for this after 9 June.
  • Refund MSD if you didn’t have a revenue loss of 30% or you made people redundant during the wage subsidy period.
  • Advise MSD if employees resigned during the wage subsidy period.
  • Do you have an employee on ACC? Remember to send details to ACC each time a subsidy payment is made. If ACC are paying your employee and you have suspended wage subsidy payments for the employee, you need to refund MSD.

2. Triangular Employment Change – 27 June

  • The Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Act 2019 comes into force on 27 June 2020.
  • We will be running a 45 minute Zoom webinar on the scenarios it applies to, what the implications are, and some best practice guidelines for managing 3rd party staff in your workplace.
    Webinar date: 18 June 2020, 11am
    Webinar fee: $25 + GST
    To book: email [email protected]

3. Paid Parental Leave – Increase 1 July

  • Increases to 26 weeks from 1 July 2020.
  • The change doesn’t require employers to provide any additional leave. It might provide more certainty for employers about the length of time you need to fill the role, given the likelihood that more parents may take at least 26 weeks if the majority of the leave is paid. Employees can still request an additional six months of unpaid parental leave.

4. Don’t forget to document

  • Have your terms changed, even if it’s only for an interim period? e.g. a 4 day week, etc.? You need to document the changes you have made as a result of COVID-19.
  • Update or document any new policies for the way you now work as a result of COVID-19 e.g. health & safety, working from home, etc.

If you have any questions, give us a call (07 823 3250) or send us an email ([email protected]).

There is no doubt about it, most of us have been impacted in some way or other with Covid-19, whether you’re in a business where it’s back to work this week, in an industry that will be facing challenges for some time yet, or perhaps somewhere in the middle.

Over the last few weeks I have had the privilege of being involved in co-facilitating a number of webinars – from both an HR and a payroll perspective. Our most recent webinar was hosted through the Cambridge Business Chamber with panellists covering these four areas of business: strategy, marketing, finance and of course HR.

The focus of the webinar was preparing for the “new normal”. It’s this concept that I want to talk about a bit more and pose these questions:
• Have you started to think about the future for you and your team?
• Do you have a staffing plan for the next few weeks?
• Do you need to make changes? What do you think those changes might encompass?
• Can you share the load across the team when you are making changes?

Whether you’re thriving, holding steady, surviving or drowning as a business, these are critical questions you need to ask. For each of these four business scenarios, we’ve put some points together on four key HR areas that you might want to consider.
1. Staffing – gearing up or down
2. Recruitment – creating capacity or no immediate change
3. Remuneration – increasing or in a holding pattern
4. Documentation – updating employment terms and conditions whether they are temporary or more permanent

The panel’s handout provides some great points to consider across each of our specialist fields. For a copy of the handout please email us on [email protected]. Contact information for each of our panellists is included in the handout.

On a sadder note, we know that some of our clients are going to need to make changes in their team structure and how they work – changes which won’t be easy or pleasant to make. We’d like you to know that we’re here to support and guide you, so please pick up the phone and have a chat on 07 823 3250 before you embark on the change journey.

We know that for some businesses it’s going to be challenging over the next few weeks. Here are some things we hope you find helpful.

1. If you have staff who are in self-isolation – Flowchart

This flowchart will help you with making decisions on when and how to pay.


2. We have put some Workplace Pandemic Planning Guidelines together

These are available on a complimentary basis by dropping us a line to [email protected].

3. Government Initiatives

Clicking on the link below will give you some helpful information on Government initiatives to support business, employers and their team.

If you need more HR help, please give us a call here at People in Mind on 07 823 3250.

Please note:
This information is offered as a guide only and for any situation you may be facing we recommend that you obtain independent professional advice. Of course People in Mind can provide that advice – just call us or email us and we will be in touch.

… facial recognition isn’t just for you anymore – we mere mortals now have this capability in our workplaces too!

Biometric data to track employee attendance has long been in use but until recently it’s largely been in the form of finger and thumb print scanning via a digital clock. But our growing ability to use technology and artificial intelligence makes other forms of digital recognition much more accessible.

Could voice and facial recognition be the next big thing in managing employee attendance? I’m unlikely to ever introduce it in my workplace but I can see the sense in using it for roles where safety and security are significant risks. Like airline pilots – I’d take great comfort in knowing that the pilot is the real deal.

We’re a nation of small businesses (accounting for circa 90% of businesses in New Zealand). We work side by side with our employees and I’m sure we know our staff well. Unless you’re a large employer or you’re trading in the high-tech, high-security market then it might not be the right technology for your business.

But if you are thinking you might be an early adopter of this technology, you should ensure you have a robust approach to implementing it. Consultation, fair play rules and total transparency are critical as is the ability to respect particular beliefs and to have a Plan B option for employees with genuine concerns about using this technology. Don’t just jump on board because it’s the latest trend – do your research! Before you commit to it, if you are given the opportunity to trial it first, consider trying a pilot programme with some of the team. You want to ensure it’s right for your workplace.

If you want a chat about whether this technology is right for you, give us a call (07 823 3250) or send us an email [email protected].

2020 will see three key changes in the employment law space:

1. On 1 April the minimum wage increases to $18.90. We are encouraging our clients to think and plan for wage increases for their team now, even if the increases don’t kick in straight away.

2. On 27 June, new legislation around triangular employment relationships will come into force. This will largely affect our clients who hire labour through agencies and/or have third party labour hire relationships. If you are in this category, we encourage you to get better acquainted with this important change to employment law as it may have consequences for you.

3. From 1 July this year, government funded parental leave payments will increase from 22 weeks to 26 weeks.

We’ve themed 2020 – now’s a great time!

And now is a great time to focus on ticking off some of those items on your HR job list, starting with thinking about your overall approach to wages this year.

Now’s also a great time to get some of those policies in place you’ve been thinking about – our top 5 recommendations:
• professional development support
• personal presentation standards
• drugs & alcohol in the workplace
• smoking & vaping
• GPS in your vehicles

Now is a great time to update your staff hand book (or put one in place if you haven’t got one). We recommend keeping it simple and having more detailed policies to refer to when the need arises.

And last but not least – now is a great time to review your employment agreements, especially if you haven’t looked at them for 2+ years (as they will now be out of kilter with the legislation). The clauses our clients most frequently asked for in 2019 included:
• clearer wording around annual leave requests with a focus on prior approval
• flexible hours clauses to help manage business demand better
• protection of intellectual property
• restraint of trade provisions
• plain English wording

We can assist you with anything HR, and especially with any of the above, so give us a call (07 823 3250) or send us an email ([email protected]).

And until the 29th of February, we have a special offer to help you get started. Our starter Professional Development Support policy is just $125 + GST.

At People in Mind, we’re big supporters of spending locally so it’s great that we can participate in the Totally Locally programme – an initiative just launched this month by the Cambridge Business Chamber.

Totally Locally is about supporting our local businesses and making a difference to our town. If each of us spent just $10 extra a week in our home town of Cambridge instead of somewhere else, the flow on effect is big! When we spend local, we help create new job opportunities and more importantly we give businesses a lift and Cambridge becomes even more of a great place to live, work and play!

Our Totally Locally Cambridge offer for employers with recruitment on their mind is …..

We also like to support our local community in other ways…

• We believe it’s important that all businesses and not-for-profit organisations should have access to HR. That’s why we sponsor these amazing community organisations…
– Cambridge Chamber of Commerce
– Cambridge Swimming Club
– Cambridge Safer Communities
– Destination Cambridge
– Cambridge Lifeskills

• We offer a discount off most of our services for not-for-profit organisations.

• And this year we’ve created a summer internship opportunity for a Uni student looking for some real-world HR experience. We have welcomed Paige Frampton to our work family, working one day a week over the summer. We love Paige’s enthusiasm and here’s how she sums up the experience so far… “The variety that HR offers on a day to day basis is compelling, and I am so eager to learn more and more!”

There’s a right way and a wrong way to reduce your staffing ratios… Read more