Question :
I am looking at having to restructure parts of our business – (we have a hair salon and an online store) and shift the hours that our team are working – certainly in the early reopening days.I have never had to restructure the business or make these kinds of changes – I could really do with some advice on how I go about this

Question submitted 07/04/20 @ 08:27pm
Industry: Services
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    Hi there. Restructuring needs to start with a clear vision of what you propose to change, and why. If those changes would impact your team (such as a change of hours) then you’ll need to formally consult with them on your proposal – and consider their feedback and ideas in good faith. There’s a useful website with lists and examples that you may find helpful. https://www.business.govt.nz/hiring-and-managing/getting-the-best-from-people/team-restructuring/
    If you can afford to do so, getting an experienced HR consultant (there are lots of independent consultants around at reasonable rates) to give you a hand, or at least check your documented plan and proposal to make sure you do everything by the book before you begin to talk to your team, is a worthwhile investment. It costs a lot more to defend a personal grievance. These things are never easy, but if you do it with kindness and treat your people with dignity and respect, you’ll be on the right path. Good luck! Fiona


    Hi Kelly
    It may be easier to have a phone conversation on this, it is important to make sure you
    communicate well with your team during any process that will impact them,
    If you are considering a re structure make it for the right reasons.
    Note that we are only two weeks away
    from a possible change in the trading environment for SME and that may change
    where you are at as well, re your restructure thoughts.
    There is no precedent in a time like this and maximising the wage subsidy, communicating and negotiating
    other fixed costs may be all to takes to get your through this time.
    I can be easy to over react through fear of the unknown.
    I have no doubt that once we are trading again Nzer’s will want to support NZ business to get their
    economy moving again. Happy to talk to you on the phone just reach out . annah@strettonclothing.co.nz


    Hi Kelley. I’m a lawyer, but not an employment lawyer. However, the employment team at my firm has put together some useful information on our website here – https://minterellison.co.nz/our-view/covid-19-employers-can-still-make-commercial-decisions-regarding-their-workforce

    Most relevantly:
    “5. It is not the case that reorganising, or restructuring, a business is no longer a business owner’s prerogative
    Businesses are entitled to make genuine commercial decisions about how they run their business and can make changes that affect employees so long as the changes are substantively justified and are made following a fair process. COVID-19 does not change those general principles, although it is relevant to considering whether the actions taken, and how the employer acted, were reasonable in all the circumstances.

    At one extreme (from an employee’s perspective) is the right to disestablish an employee’s role, and for them to be made redundant if there is no other suitable role for them to be redeployed to in the business. The simple reality is that if employers retain the right to do that (which they do absolutely if they are not within the post 4pm on 27 March 12-week wage subsidy period), then they must be able to make other, less drastic, decisions such as reduction of hours.

    The key here is ensuring the changes employers wish to make are substantively justified, and that a fair process is followed.

    Let us think about this in terms of a 4-day week. It may be entirely appropriate for an employer to consult with employees and implement a 4-day week following consultation, so long as there is good reason to do so, and employers give employees a reasonable opportunity to seek advice and provide feedback on the proposal and incorporate that feedback into their decision making. This process is important, and something employers should seek advice on. To suggest that this option is not available to employers is simply wrong.

    If employers are receiving the wage subsidy then there are restrictions on what they can do in this regard, but not in respect of things that they can reach agreement with their employees on. So, employers can still consult with their employees including during the 12-week wage subsidy period and see if agreement can be reached. If not, then employers will need to wait for the 12-week wage subsidy period to pass before taking further action (employers who applied for the wage subsidy pre 4pm on 27 March are in a slightly different situation).”

    Hope that helps – in addition to the amazing practical advice from Fiona and Annah above.


    Thank you so much for this advice!! I will check out the link you sent!
    Take care

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