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.
A probationary period is different to a trial period.
A probationary period may be used to trial an employee in a new position within the same company. This gives the employee a chance to prove they have the skills or can learn the skills for the new position. The probation period should be for an agreed length of time.
A probationary employee still has to be paid and receives all the benefits that a permanent employee would get, and the probation period must be set out in the employment agreement, if you have an existing employment it should be updated to include the probationary period.
A probation period can sometimes be longer than 90 days, but only if that is reasonable and agreed to. During the probation period you should be made aware of what is expected to perform the job satisfactorily and you should be monitored and receive feedback.
If there are any problems during the probation period your employer must still follow the correct disciplinary process that is laid out in your employment agreement. If you have been on a probationary period and have been dismissed at the end of it give us a call so we can check that everything has been done fairly and correctly. If the correct procedure has not been followed we can raise a personal grievance for you.
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