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[ INTAFF EBLAST] Managing Workplaces during COVID-19 response and recovery



During COVID19, working conditions have changed for a lot of businesses and their employees. The Labour and Consumer Services issued a guideline back in March 2020 to assist workplaces on how to navigate the changes in good faith and by respecting the normal employment obligations and rights.

As we enter the seventh month in this difficult reality, we continue to receive queries and complaints in regards to violation of minimum employment rights and obligations. As a reminder to all, the regular employment law still applies to all employment relationships, despite the circumstances we find ourselves in. Essential aspects that are still causing disputes and misunderstandings in the workplace include :

· Absence of an agreement, preferably in writing, for every employee, that needs to be changed as the situation changes. It is crucial to keep these agreements up to date to avoid misunderstandings, especially when changes to hours of work, rate of pay and job descriptions occur.

· Absence of consultation and participation of employees in negotiating the changes in the employment agreement.

· Continued violation of the ERA 2012 minimum terms and conditions, such as absence of payslips, unlawful deductions, violation of leave entitlements and pay.

Dealing with each other in good faith is more important than ever. Parties must not act in a misleading or deceptive way with each other. More than ever, parties need to be responsive and communicative, treating each other fairly and respectfully. Disputes and grievances affect the workplace in many ways, be it financially or emotionally. COVID19 economic stimulation and recovery can be supported by encouraging best and fair workplace practices. Let us all do our part.

We continue to offer our support to all businesses and encourage the sharing of best practices.

For any queries, kindly contact the Labour and Consumer Services, 29370 or intaff.employment@cookislands.gov.ck




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