Anderson Lloyd Lawyers partner Lesley Brook in Dunedin
yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Employers ignoring safety obligations for staff on a snow
day could face more ''severe'' consequences under new
legislation, Anderson Lloyd Lawyers partner Lesley Brook says.
Mrs Brook, of Maori Hill, said new health and safety
legislation would include a more ''severe'' penalty regime.
WorkSafe NZ had more resources for enforcing the safety
obligations by prosecution, she said.
Consequently, employers needed to consider the safety of
their staff on a snow day.
Mrs Brook said that as snow fell in Otago on Monday, many
employers were considering safety, with NZ Post deciding to
cancel all deliveries to Dunedin's hill suburbs.
Many workers in Otago needed to be ''out and about'' and
under the new legislation it could be considered unreasonable
for an employer to expect them to work in unsafe weather
conditions, she said.
Some employers might need to provide safe transport to and
from work because WorkSafe NZ and the courts could consider
travel time to be covered by the legislation, she said.
If an employer contacted staff at home on a snow day and
instructed them to travel to work, the employer could have
created a ''safety obligation'' under the new legislation.
Another safety consideration for employers was if the weather
was forecast to worsen, she said.
If staff got to work safely but the weather was forecast to
''close in'', it could hinder a safe passage home.
''The employer has to make a decision - do we let them go
early, or do we insist they work out the full day.''
The legislation was designed to improve New Zealand's safety
record and could change the decision-making process of
''I think it will change behaviour, in that employers will
think about safety a lot more.''
Wise employers would have a clear snow-day policy so staff
knew their employer's expectations.
It could reveal the circumstances in which staff would get
paid, or not, and the reasonable efforts they were expected
to make to get to work, she said.
An employer could expect staff to have a backup arrangement
for care of children, if school was cancelled.
Labour Minister Simon Bridges said he welcomed the health and
safety regulations discussion document released last week,
which outlined proposals for new health and safety
The regulations would help people to comply with the new
regime when the new Health and Safety at Work Act came into
force next year.
''Regulations remove the guesswork about what is needed to
meet duties under the law,'' Mr Bridges said.
The document was part of reforms that aimed to reduce New
Zealand's workplace injury and death toll by 25% by 2020.
Submissions on the discussion document close on July 18.