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6 Employment Law Considerations for My Startup’s Remote Team in NZ 

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Businesses worldwide are embracing remote or hybrid working arrangements This is particularly the case for startups, where innovation and new ways of working are prioritised. Remote working arrangements can benefit both your startup and your team members who wish to work remotely. However, various legal considerations come with remote work despite its benefits. This article will take you through six employment law considerations for your New Zealand startup’s remote team.

1. Employment Contracts

Remote work arrangements must be formalised through your business’ standard employment contracts. For example, a standard employment contract will include provisions about:

  • tasks and duties of the role;
  • compensation and other financial benefits;
  • working hours, including any overtime provisions; and
  • termination and dispute resolution.

These causes must align with the Employment Relations Act 2000. This Act covers New Zealand’s employment laws. 

However, you will also want to include remote-work-specific clauses. Some clauses you should consider addressing are outlined below:

  • Arrangement: State that the position allows for remote work and specify whether it is entirely or partially remote.
  • Location: Outline if the remote work is limited to a particular location. This is particularly relevant for tax purposes.
  • Time zones: All employment contracts will define work hours. However, you must include any specific time zones employees should adhere to when working remotely.
  • Equipment: Describe whether the employer will provide the necessary equipment and tools for remote work (e.g., laptops, internet connection etc.). You should also include information about who is responsible for the replacement of these tools.
  • Data privacy: You must highlight the increased importance of maintaining data privacy standards when working remotely. This includes detailing protocols for handling sensitive information.
  • Work environment: Outline expectations for the remote work environment, such as minimum internet connectivity or workspace ergonomic standards.

2. Taxation and Pay Obligations 

Managing payroll for remote employees based internationally can be complex. For example, employers must withhold the appropriate income taxes and other contributions. You, as the employer must then pay these to the relevant authorities. It is strongly recommended that you speak to a tax consultant to understand the implications for both you and your employee. This will help minimise legal and financial risks for both you and your remote workers.

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3. Performance and Productivity 

You must ensure performance and productivity are maintained within a remote work environment. You must set clear expectations and accountability measures, such as deliverables or key performance indicators. Confusion about expectations or deadlines can lead to employment law disputes in the future. This makes fostering a culture of accountability and productivity within your remote team more important.

4. Remote Work Policies

Establishing detailed and clear remote work policies is critical to defining expectations and guidelines for remote employees. Setting such boundaries will help minimise potential legal risks associated with remote work. For example, potential legal risks with remote work include disputes about working hours or privacy breaches. Remote work provisions must be clearly articulated in the employment contract. Further, open communication channels must be provided to clarify remote employees’ questions or concerns.

5. Data Privacy and Security

With remote work comes unique data security challenges. In particular, concerns arise about protecting sensitive information and intellectual property. For these reasons, startups must implement strong data protection measures, such as encryption and access control measures. It is also strongly recommended that startups provide their employees with training on how to best handle data. Data security policies must align with New Zealand’s Privacy Act 2020.

6. Jurisdictional Considerations

Employment laws may vary depending on the jurisdiction where your remote employees are based. As such, startups must understand and comply with all local employment laws and regulations where their team members live. Cultural considerations must also be taken into account. It is highly recommended that you seek advice from a local lawyer or employment consultant to help you navigate jurisdictional issues and ensure compliance with the local laws.

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Key Takeaways

Businesses across the world are embracing remote work on an unprecedented scale. This includes New Zealand’s startup landscape. However, some key legal considerations that must be had include:

  • employment contracts;
  • taxation and pay obligations;
  • performance and productivity;
  • remote work policies;
  • data privacy and security; and
  • jurisdictional considerations.

If you need help to ensure your startup’s remote team operates seamlessly contact our experienced employment lawyers as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0800 005 570 or visit our membership page.

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Emily Young

Emily Young

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