It is no secret in a society that is obsessed with physical appearance, employees fight a battle to stay relevant as they reach middle age. In the workplace, that can result in being passed over for promotions, marginalised, and pushed out to make room for younger employees. Age related assumptions create the perception that older workers are less relevant, while the opposite is often true.
While age discrimination is illegal, in practice it’s difficult to prove. Your employer cannot force you to stop working because of your age. If they do, you could file a personal grievance against them.
In New Zealand, nearly one in three workers is already over 55.
You are protected from age discrimination by the law, and it’s important for you to understand it.
NZ Super and some other pensions start at age 65 but there is no official retirement age in New Zealand. There are a few jobs with exceptions where you may not be able to keep working after a specific age. They include:
- jobs where being a particular age or in a particular age group is genuinely needed for you to do the job —
for example, an actor who needs to be a certain age for a role
- domestic employment in a private household, such as a cleaner or a gardener
- occupations where the retirement age is written into law — for example, judges and coroners
- some crew of ships and aircraft employed by foreign-owned companies that are operating in New Zealand
- your employment contract was signed before April 1992 and that contract specified your retirement age, and you agreed with your employer in writing to confirm or change your retirement age.
If you are being managed out of your position, made redundant or subjected to talks of restructuring, or feel you are being bullied into resigning the burden of proof would be with you. Knowing your rights helps you to stand in power. If you are let go and you suspect your age is a factor, we can help you negotiate a better settlement.
While it may be perfectly okay for colleagues to ask you if you have retirement plans it could also raise a red flag. If you are on the receiving end of snide remarks or ‘digs’ mentioning your age, or suggestions that you should retire start taking notes, who said what and who was there.
So If you find yourself subject to talks of restructure or suddenly under the microscope and you start to worry that this could be a sign that you manager or employer may be looking for ways to terminate your employment it would be a good idea to contact us for some free advise or assistance.
Call us on 0800 669 466 or complete our webform:
Why it’s not such a great idea to pull a sickie
You’ll spend most of your day worrying if the boss believes you are really sick and thinking of ways to convince everyone at work how sick you were. And, some poor sucker will have to work twice as hard because you’re not there.
2. You’re going to regret that when you spend the rest of the week trying to catch up.
3. Next week you probably are going to genuinely be sick – that’s called karma, and you’re going to have to think twice about having another day off.
Probably not a great idea to pull a sickie when you’re on a 90 day trial either.
Sometimes it’s actually quite hard to tell if you are sick or not, so it’s a hard call to make, and then there are those days where you wake up feeling like #### but as soon as you get up and about you feel great, especially because you’ve scored a day off. And then there’s mental health days!
On the other hand don’t be the person who comes to work with a stinking cold and spreads it around to everyone else and acts like they are some kind of saint!
There is no power in the Holidays Act for an Employer to force their Employees to take sick or unpaid leave, however Employers may want to consider alternative options, such as allowing the Employee to work from home or requiring a medical certificate to confirm they are fit to work.
When you’re really sick what do you do?
You need to tell your employer as soon as possible, that you are sick or injured and you want to take sick leave. A phone call is the best way to let your employer know, but your workplace may have its own systems to tell them you are sick.
You might have to prove it
If the employer asks for proof when you are away sick for less than three consecutive days, they should tell you as soon as possible that proof is required and must pay reasonable expenses incurred in getting that proof. They can’t insist that you visit a particular health provider.
If your employer asks for proof of your illness or injury when you are away sick for three or more consecutive days, you’ll have to pay the costs of visiting a doctor to get that proof. For example, if you have been off work for two consecutive days and are still sick on the third day, then your employer can ask you for a medical certificate and you would have pay for the cost of obtaining one.
If you don’t provide proof when it has been requested and don’t have a reasonable excuse, your employer is entitled to not pay you for the leave until you do provide proof.
The Medical Council of New Zealand has given the following guidelines as to what should be contained in the medical certificates:
Date of examination
Time period of treatment
Clinical opinion that outlines activities that are safe for the Employee to undertake and the appropriate restrictions.
Where medical certificates do not contain this information, and Employees consent, the Employer can request for further information to be provided from the medical professional.
What will happen if I get sick and have already used up all of my sick leave entitlement?
If you have to take time off work due to illness but have no sick leave entitlement, talk to your employer about your options. It’s most likely you will have to use some of your annual leave, take unpaid leave, or take sick leave in advance (e.g. if you have not worked there for long enough to have sick leave entitlement).
If you have been on sick leave for a prolonged period of time, or on ACC your employer doesn’t necessarily have to keep your job open for you. Please get in touch if you are being dismissed due to being unable to work, and we will check your rights.
BULLYING AT WORK
Bullying is a health and safety issue! If your workplace has become unsafe because of bullying you are not helpless.
If your workplace has become unsafe because of Bullying and harassment by your bosses or co-workers you can do something about it.
Bullying and harassment can take many forms including abuse, overload of work and unreasonable expectations in performance of duties. You should approach your immediate superior in the first instance to complain and see if the problem can be fixed. If after several such requests the problem is not fixed you can take a grievance.
You may raise a grievance under different statutes depending on the nature of the bullying or harassment. We can help you at the outset to try and resolve your problem and we can help you with your grievance and subsequent progress towards a solution.
Bullying is hard to prove. Just because you feel bullied it doesn’t mean you have a case, but just because it is hard to prove it doesn’t mean you don’t.
What Workplace bullying IS:
- repeated and unreasonable behavior directed towards a worker that can lead to physical or psychological harm.
- Repeated behavior occurs more than once and can involve a range of actions over time.
- Unreasonable behavior means actions that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would see as unreasonable. It includes victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening a person.
- Bullying may also include harassment, discrimination or violence
What is NOT Workplace bullying:
- one-off or occasional instances of forgetfulness, rudeness or tactlessness
- setting high performance standards
- constructive feedback and legitimate advice or peer review
- a manager requiring reasonable verbal or written work instructions to be carried out
- warning or disciplining workers in line with the business or undertaking’s code of conduct
- a single incident of unreasonable behaviour
- reasonable management actions delivered in a reasonable way
- differences in opinion or personality clashes that do not escalate into bullying, harassment or violence.
We must be able to prove that the bully caused harm and also intended to cause harm on more than one occasion.
You will be expected to have kept records of the incidents and to have told someone else, preferably management.
Bullying Formal Complaint Form
If the bullying is not an immediate threat to your health and you know your Employer is not yet aware of the situation you can use is form to raise a formal complaint:
Print this form and complete it. Give it to your Manager, or to your HR Department. This is to make sure your employer is aware of the bullying situation, and gives them the opportunity to respond.
If you would like to talk to us about the situation, even if you haven’t yet raised the issue with your Employer, please feel free to call us, we can help you decide what to do next, or if we can already step in on your behalf.
Please contact us on 0800 669 446 or use the contact form:
If you’re looking for help with your employment issue and you don’t know what to do next just have a look through all the reviews below, then pick up the phone and give us a call so we can help you too !
Our Advocates are either qualified legal professionals or human resources experts. We do the same job as employment lawyers, the difference is that we are able to provide our services on a No Win No Fee basis. We strive to be the best Employment Advocates in NZ by holding ourselves to the highest standards possible.
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