Conflict of Interest (COI)
What is a conflict of interest?
A conflict of interest (COI) is a situation where someone has competing interests or loyalties because of their duties to more than one person or organisation. These can be financial, personal, they can be in relation to friends or family and they can be actual, personal, or perceived.
How might this apply to me?
You may be in a situation where you are not able to be impartial or objective in making a judgement, decision or taking an action. This could be while undertaking the core functions of your role or participating in internal processes (e.g. as a member of an appointments panel). At times there may be no actual COI, but the perception of others is that one exists e.g. if someone believes you are friends with an offender, then it is a perceived COI. While a perceived COI needs to be taken seriously it can often be handled informally. You also need to be aware of potential COI where a third party may become involved in a way that will have future impacts e.g. one of your colleagues has an interest in the outcome.
How do I decide if I have a conflict of interest?
You could look at the situation as if you were an observer. Think about whether you could discuss the situation with a friend or colleague and feel as though you were not having to justify any action or inaction you took or feel that your reputation could be affected. Consider your involvement in any investigation; is there any information you know that you should not know? If you are not sure, then discuss this with your supervisor or manager.
Looking at whether there is a COI in any given situation should be a normal part of your work so that it becomes second nature. This way you are more likely to prevent any issues arising for you, Police, your colleagues, family, or friends.
There may be occasions where you are not able to declare a COI at the time due to the nature of the situation (e.g. during an arrest) but you should advise the most appropriate person at your first opportunity. It can often be perceived to be a conflict of interest where you are a sole charge officer in a small community, or the offender and victim are both personally known to you, you should discuss with your line supervisor at the earliest opportunity.
While a COI may not exist at first, you should also continue to assess a situation as it develops, sometimes throughout the course of your dealings with a matter, a COI may become obvious.
What should I do if I believe I have a conflict of interest?
Even if you are not sure if there is a COI you should discuss this with your supervisor or manager so they can look at the situation objectively. It is better to have discussed it and not need to take any action rather than find out later you should have and find yourself in a difficult situation e.g. a disciplinary matter.
In some situations, such as small communities it may be hard to avoid a COI around someone you know. It may be that the COI does not have an overall bearing on the situation, or it may be able to be managed. It is important that you check with your supervisor or manager rather than assume it will be ok.
What should I do if I have declared a COI and no one seems to be taking it seriously?
You should follow your normal channels of escalation. Discuss this with a more senior manager or your HR department. In the meantime, ensure that you are doing what you can to keep yourself and others safe i.e. document anything that is relevant to the situation.
What are some examples of conflicts of interest?
- You are off duty and socialising with friends and whanau/family. You overhear someone in your group talking about doing something which is legally questionable. You offer advice on how Police are likely to handle it and if they choose to go ahead with that action they could be in serious trouble. You believe they have understood and will not continue with that course of action. Later, you hear that they did go ahead and there is an investigation. You must tell your supervisor or manager that you talked to this person and declare any COI so that a management plan can be put in place to ensure any COI is handled appropriately.
- You find out that your friends’ cousin has been arrested for possession of a class B drug. When you go into work later that day you are asked to look into this. You should declare this as a COI as you have a link through one of your friends. This link may be considered low and not likely to affect the outcome or may be able to be managed but your supervisor needs to know about this and be able to make a decision whether you should be on the case or whether you should be removed from the case altogether.
- You are asked to help with a job which you will be paid for. This may be a COI in relation to section 1.8 of your Collective Employment Agreement and Police policy around secondary employment. Refer to the Police policy on secondary employment - there is the potential for secondary employment to be a COI with your role in police e.g. bar work, bouncing or security work - or it may not, either way you need permission to have another job.
- You are given a gift from someone who is grateful for your help. This may be a COI in relation to Police policy around accepting gifts. Refer to the Police policy on procurement and gifts, discounts, and hospitality - caution is required around any gift or hospitality as this could potentially create a COI.
- You have been working on a case as part of a team for some time. You become aware that an acquaintance is now a subject of the enquiry (may be a witness or a suspect). You should raise this with your supervisor immediately. This is important to protect the investigation and your acquaintance from any hint that an investigation may not have been impartial.
- I needed to check my partner’s warrant of fitness expiry date, so I just used NIA because it was the fastest way. Checking yourself or anyone you know on NIA for any reasons is a COI and a breach of the code of conduct and will result in disciplinary action. If there is a genuine work-related reason for the check someone else should do it.
- You are a member of an appointments panel. You previously worked closely with one of the applicants. You should declare this as a potential COI. Other applicants may be aware of that previous working relationship and if that applicant is successful in securing the vacancy, may believe that advantaged the applicant.
What could happen if I don’t declare an actual, potential, or perceived conflict of interest?
There could be a number of outcomes from low level to quite serious that could impact on you and possibly others i.e. the public, your colleagues.
In terms of consequences for you they could range from a conversation around expectations to an issue of serious misconduct depending on the level of seriousness. In serious cases, your employment could be in jeopardy and there could be legal consequences for you. A COI is not something to take lightly.
If you are investigating a matter, or are involved and have a COI which you do not declare, for example a friend who has been the victim of a crime serious or otherwise, it may mean that any investigation is compromised and may affect and outcome at court. Police, and you may be severely embarrassed by this and you could be subject to significant criticism.
If you are not sure if you have a COI, or if one exists, it is better to raise the matter with your supervisor than risk being criticised afterwards.
What should I do if I realise there was a conflict of interest and did not declare it at the time?
A COI may not have existed at first, but it becomes clear later that there is a COI. You should declare it at the at the time you become aware of it.
If you become aware of a COI which you should have declared much sooner, but didn’t, talk to your supervisor or the most appropriate person in the circumstances as soon as possible. Depending on the level of COI, the outcome will vary. If it was a low-level COI i.e. a friend of a friend and the situation was not serious your supervisor may have a conversation around expectations with you. This is also an opportunity for you to talk about how you might have done things differently and learn how to manage this in the future.
However, if the COI was serious there may be more significant consequences. If this is the case, contact the Association for advice before meeting with your supervisor to discuss it.
What if I did not realise there was a conflict, but the issue is raised with me?
Again, a COI may become known as the situation develops. Declare it as soon as you become aware of it. If someone else raises a COI which you were not aware of, the matter is relatively straight forward, depending on the level of COI. You should discuss it with your supervisor.
If you disagree with someone’s view of there being a COI, declaring it with your supervisor is required. Often a perceived COI can be just as serious as an actual COI. The situation may just require a conversation around expectations but if the COI was serious or you should have been aware of it in the first place, contact the Association for advice before meeting with your supervisor.
Where can I get further advice or support?
There are several Police policies you can refer to. The COI Policy is an important reference document but check on the intranet for a list of Police policies or contact your HR department.
If you need assistance from the Police Association in relation to a COI email [email protected] and someone will be in touch.
Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act 2018
What is the purpose of this Act?
The Act is designed to provide greater support and legal protection for victims of domestic violence. It recognises the harm experienced by those facing domestic violence and the support a workplace can provide to victims to stay in employment while they find ways to rebuild their lives.
- short-term flexible working
- paid domestic violence leave
- assurance that an employee will not be treated adversely at work if they are or might be experiencing domestic violence
- ability to access these conditions even if the domestic violence happened in the past
How might it apply to me?
The definition of domestic violence comes from the Domestic Violence Act 1995 and means violence from one person against another person who is in a domestic relationship e.g. a partner or family member or a close personal relationship.
A person affected by domestic violence means a person who is or has had domestic violence inflicted on them. This includes any domestic violence that is being or has been inflicted on a child who is living with them permanently or periodically. Violence includes physical, sexual or psychological abuse e.g. intimidation, harassment, financial abuse.
Anyone who is thought or known to be experiencing domestic violence must not be treated adversely because of their circumstances. This includes but is not limited to processes and practices available to other employees such as, appointment, terms of employment, conditions of work, training opportunities and any discipline or conduct processes.
What is short term flexible working?
Employees who are affected by domestic violence can make or have someone make, on their behalf, a request for a short term (2 months or shorter) variation to their working arrangements to assist them to deal with the effect(s) of domestic violence.
This variation might include one or more of the following: location, duties, hours/days of work, or any terms that may need to be varied to enable an employee to deal with the effects of domestic violence. This can be requested no matter how long ago the domestic violence occurred, even if it occurred before they became an employee of Police.
Requests must be made in writing and the employer must deal with the request, in writing, as soon as possible but no later than 10 working days after receiving it. The employer must provide information to the employee regarding appropriate specialist domestic violence support services before or at the time the employee is notified of the decision.
An employer may require proof that the employee is affected by domestic violence. This can for example, be in an agreed form of a document from a health professional or a family violence support service.
An employer may only refuse a request if proof of domestic violence has been requested and not provided or, the request cannot be agreed to due to the needs of the organisation e.g. no reliever is available. Proof of domestic violence may be required by the employer by or on behalf of the employee within 10 days of the request only if the employer advises the employee as early as possible that it is required and, that they require this within 3 working days after they receive your request for flexible work.
An employee can also make a request for a variation of their working arrangements under flexible working in the Employment Relations Act. You will find more information and templates to apply for leave here
What is domestic violence leave?
An employee affected by domestic violence is entitled to 10 days leave to enable them to deal with the effects of domestic violence regardless of when it occurred. This means that an employee is entitled to domestic violence leave even if they were not an employee at the time and/or the violence occurred sometime in the past.
An employee is entitled to this leave after they have completed 6 months of current continuous employment or if over a period of 6 months the employee has worked for at least an average of 10 hours per week during that period and no less than 1 hour in every week or 40 hours in every month.
Leave must be provided to an employee who has completed 6 months continuous employment at the end of the first 6 months of employment. Domestic leave of 10 days is then available within each subsequent 12 months of continuous employment.
If an employee and employer mutually agree, domestic violence leave may be taken in advance which will then be deducted from the total entitlement.
An employee must notify their employer as early as possible before they are due to start work that they intend to take leave or if that is not practicable, due to the circumstances, as soon as possible after that time.
Leave cannot be accrued, and any leave not taken in a 12 month period or at the conclusion of employment is not able to be paid out. There are provisions requiring that employers allow employees who become entitled to domestic violence leave while talking annual holidays to be able to take domestic violence leave rather than annual leave.
Payment is at the employees’ normal rate of pay (including any allowances that apply) in the same pay period they took the leave. However, if an employee is required to provide proof of domestic violence and does not do so the employer is not required to make a payment under domestic leave until the request is complied with.
An employer is not required to pay an employee if they are receiving weekly ACC payments. An employer cannot require an employee to take domestic leave during the first week of ACC compensation or instead of weekly compensation for a work-related injury. However, they can by mutual agreement deduct from the domestic leave entitlement, 1 day for every 5 whole days if, there was already an agreement in place for paying the difference between the first week or weekly compensation and their ordinary weekly pay.
Where can I get further advice or support?
If you need advice or support please email [email protected] and someone will be in touch.
You will find further information at these links:
Employment Relationship Problems (ERP)
What is an employment relationship problem?
The term ‘employment relationship problem’ (ERP) is an all-encompassing term covering any problem that can impact on the employment relationship between employee and employer. Problems can range from contractual entitlements under the Collective Agreements, to hours of work, rostering arrangements, leave issues, overpayments, performance and staff personality issues. An ERP is usually the first formal step to encompassing and raising personal grievance matters.
What should I do if I have an ERP?
When a problem arises members should act early, and in the first instance gather all relevant information, then raise and attempt to resolve the matter themselves through their supervisor/manager or if this is not an option, through HR. Police have an ERP policy which should be followed. However, it is recommended that members also seek the guidance and advice of their District Senior Employment Advisor as to how to approach and resolve the matter.
There is essentially no limit to the remedies that may resolve an ERP as any resolution will be based on discussions and agreement with Police as the employer. Generally, the primary remedy will be to fix or address the problem raised to the satisfaction of the employee. If necessary, settlement may be achieved through mediation.
To ensure members protect their rights they should seek the early advice and guidance of their District Senior Employment Advisor.
What is a personal grievance (PG)?
It is a legal complaint that can be made in some situations. It will often be raised where an ERP has not satisfactorily been resolved or informal attempts to resolve the issue are unsuccessful. PGs are always raised against the Commissioner in their capacity as an employer, not against supervisors or other members.
Reasons an employee can raise a complaint under Part 9 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 and include:
- Unjustifiable dismissal
- Unjustifiable action which disadvantages the employee
- Sexual harassment
- Racial harassment
- Duress over membership of a union or other employee organisation
You will find a full list of reasons on the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) website.
A PG must be raised within 90 days of the action giving rise to the grievance occurring or coming to the attention of the employee. This 90-day timeframe is strict and only in exceptional circumstances will the courts allow a PG to be pursued outside this 90-day timeframe. Members should therefore note the date an ERP first arises or came to their attention and then calculate 90 days from that date. During this 90-day period the member should attempt to resolve the ERP with Police. It is therefore important to note that if an ERP is not resolved within this 90-day period then serious consideration should be given to whether or not a PG should be raised.
Please note: If you think you have a personal grievance, please contact your District Senior Employment Advisor before taking any action.
Is there anything else I can do before I consider a personal grievance?
It is important to refer to any applicable Police policy and to Police as their employer in the first instance to ensure Police are given a reasonable opportunity to meet their good employer obligations.
A personal grievance is action that should be taken only as a last resort. It is important that issues are raised at the lowest possible level with your employer first. In the first instance consider raising this with your supervisor or manager. If this has not resolved the issue or is not an option, contact HR to discuss it with them. Alternatives may include facilitation or mediation.
Would facilitation be an option and what does it involve?
Facilitation may be an option to resolve conflicts you might be experiencing with another staff member. It is a low-level informal option through the use of an impartial facilitator. A facilitated meeting may provide an opportunity to discuss issues and if possible, reach agreement or a constructive outcome. It could be a one-off meeting or an ongoing process. In the first instance contact HR to discuss this as an option.
If the parties can't agree on a solution, facilitation can lead to mediation or another dispute resolution process.
What is mediation?
Mediation will normally follow where attempts to settle a personal grievance or employment relationship problem on behalf of the member has failed. A request for mediation can be made by the employee or employer to try to resolve the matter with the assistance of a mediator. A mediator assists an employee and employer to resolve an ERP in a semi-formal and confidential environment. Once an agreement is reached this is formalised in writing through a record of settlement which is legally binding.
Mediations are generally requested through Mediation services which are part of MBIE. The mediator is impartial, and their role is to:
- encourage parties to identify the real issues
- help the parties explain those issues to each other
- identify points of agreement between the two parties
- help people find a way through their problem that may not seem immediately apparent
- help parties to find a resolution that allows both parties to put the issues behind them
- provide an assessment of the risks if the problem is not resolved and proceeds further.
It is important to contact your District Senior Employment Advisor or National Office if you have been requested to attend mediation to ensure appropriate support can be provided to you. Before the mediation your representative will discuss the issues and possible settlement options.
Remedies through mediation are unlimited and controlled by the parties. They can include reinstatement or interim reinstatement (if dismissed or removed from employment), reimbursement of monies owed, compensation for hurt and humiliation, transfer, or any other remedy that can be negotiated with the employer.
You will find more information on mediations at on the MBIE website.
What if I have tried all those options and it is not resolved?
Further litigation i.e. taking a case to court will be considered on a case by case basis. Court action should be considered as a last resort. The Association will only pursue matters through the Courts on behalf of members after careful consideration is given to the issues and then balanced alongside the Associations internal PG policy criteria.
What support can I get from the Association?
The initial stages of the personal grievance process are informal.
The Police Association may provide employment assistance for an ERP in an attempt to resolve the matter at a low level. However, where that fails and/or a PG is considered, members must note that the association may at its discretion agree or decline to pursue a PG considering the following criteria:
- the member was a current member at the time the issue arose; AND
- the matter giving rise to the need for Employment Assistance is not a member-v-member issue; AND
- the matter giving rise to the need for Employment Assistance is inherently serious in that it may involve a serious employment consequence/disadvantage, and/or the matter giving rise to the application involves a principle of general interest to members; AND
- the grievance alleged appears to have a reasonable prospect of success; AND
- it seems cost-effective to pursue the issue as a grievance based on a professional benefit/cost analysis.
Please note: The Legal Assistance Scheme is not available as a means of funding legal support for personal grievances.
Where can I get further advice or support?
Flexible Employment Opportunities (FEO)
What are Flexible Employment Opportunities (FEO)?
FEO are working arrangements that allow you to change your work to enable a better work life balance. This can include, but is not limited to, family care needs or where you live. The legislation that covers this arrangement can be found in Part 6AA of the Employment Relations Act 2000.
Police is one of seven public service agencies who have signed up to the ‘flexible-by-default’ pilot. This pilot places emphasis on treating all roles as flexible unless there are good business reasons for the role not to be. Flexible options are equally available to men and women and do not undermine career progression or pay.
You can apply from your first day of work and anyone other than casual or temporary employees can request a flexible work arrangement with no limit on the number of times you can request this. Flexible work is not just about working part-time instead of full-time or changing the shifts that you work. Other options include:
- hours of work (over a day, a week or year)
- days of work
- place of work
- how work is done
- how starting and ending work times are managed
- how work is managed in the workplace to help employees and businesses
Note: If you are affected by domestic violence there are additional terms available to you. You will find more information in the Domestic Violence Leave section of the website.
What is the process for applying?
Police has a policy on FEO which you will find on your Police Ten intranet. You will need to submit your request in writing through the Employee Relations tab of MyPolice and include the following information:
- include your name and QID
- dated with the day your request is made
- refer to Part 6AA of the Employment Relations Act 2000
- explain the working arrangement you are seeking and whether you want it to be permanent or for a set period of time
- state the date that you want the new working arrangement to start and, if the new working arrangement is for a set period of time and state the date you want the arrangement to end
- explain why you are requesting a flexible working arrangement, for example, childcare arrangements
- explain, in your view, what changes (if any) the employer may need to make to their current business arrangements if the request is approved (see: Can my application be declined? below for business grounds to consider). The more information you provide and the clearer the request the easier it will be for your supervisor/manager to decide about the request.
If you are not sure whether changing your work arrangement will work for you, you may find it better to include a specified time or a trial period to enable your and your supervisor/manager to work out any issues before going to a permanent arrangement. If you decide you only want flexible options for a set or trial period, then make sure you include this in your request.
Can my application be declined?
Your employer must give your request genuine consideration and respond no later than one month after they received it. Only the District Commander or National Manager can refuse if the request conflicts with your collective agreement, or if there are business grounds for refusal as follows:
- they are unable to reorganise work among other staff
- they can’t recruit more staff
- it would have a negative impact on quality
- it would have a negative impact on performance
- there is not enough work during the periods the employee wants to work
- planned structural changes
- it would cause too much additional cost
- it would impact on your ability to meet customer demand
Your manager/supervisor must state that the request is refused because of one of the grounds specified above and explain the reasons that is fits within those grounds. If the reason given is not clear you could request a meeting to seek clarification or to discuss possible alternative options.
My application was approved but I have been told this will be reviewed regularly, does that mean this is not permanent?
Police policy requires a minimum of an annual review. Any change to your terms and conditions under the Employment Relations Act constitutes a permanent change however, it can (and should) be reviewed periodically, with a set timeframe provided. A review provides an opportunity to discuss whether the arrangement is working for you and/or the business. If the arrangement is working, then this can be confirmed in writing and a further review date set.
However, it may be that your circumstances have changed, and you would like to alter the arrangement. This would require a new application. Your supervisor/manager may advise that the requirements of your department have changed, and your current arrangement is impacting on how the work is managed. Any requirement that you change or cancel the work arrangement still need to fit with the reasons as specified under the Act. It may be that the manager would like you to consider changing it slightly e.g. swap the days you work from home. Any agreement should be confirmed in writing.
Your FEO arrangement may be approved for a specified period if there are upcoming changes that may impact your role. For example, if your department is undergoing a restructure, then your FEO arrangement may need to be reviewed at the end of that process to ensure it still works for both you and the business under the new structure.
What happens to my remuneration?
If your FEO means a reduction in hours, over any period, your total remuneration will be pro-rated – that is, reduced proportionately based on the hours you are working. The calculation is your weekly hours divided by 40 hours per week, and this is regardless of whether you are a Scale A (non-shift) or Scale B (shift) worker. The result of this calculation is called an “FTE” – a fulltime equivalent. Your fortnightly salary will then be that percentage of your fulltime total remuneration (there are different arrangements for leave and allowances).
It’s a simple calculation for Scale A (non-shift) workers:
Example 1: Tim works 24 hours per week: 24/40 = 0.6 FTE.
This can still be done if people want to work different arrangements, like 9-day fortnights - simply work out the hours worked over the fortnight and divide by 80.
Example 2: Jane works a 9-day fortnight, 72 hours over 9 days: 72/80 = 0.9 FTE.
For Scale B employees on rotating shifts, this same thinking applies. Shift patterns will, over time, have an average of 40 hours per week achieved. Usually this is over a 10-week roster period, where multiple roster cycles total 400 hours over 10 weeks. In a year, you have 5x10 week cycles PLUS two extra weeks and this totals 2080 hours over the year:
10-week cycle = 400 hours
5x10 weeks cycles = 2000 hours
PLUS, two weeks @ 40hrs/week
= 2080 hours per year
To calculate FEO, Payroll should work out how many hours that person will work over the same roster cycle as their full-time hours: For example: Jim works a 2-2-2 roster: E-E-L-L-N-N. He's asked to work FEO and have the E shifts off. Over the full 10-week roster cycle, there are 7 sets of shifts totalling 400 hours. By taking the Es off, he will now work a total of 274.5 hours over the full roster cycle. This is: 274.5/400 = 0.69 FTE. Jim's total rem will now be calculated based on this.
On a rotating roster you may end up working the bulk of your hours in one week of a fortnight, with your RDOs stacked in the other week. Regardless of how many hours you work in a fortnight, your salary should remain constant at the new pro rata amount.
If your FEO application does not reduce your hours from fulltime, but rearranges them in some way, then you remain fulltime (1.0 FTE). Your fortnightly salary should not change.
Where can I get further advice or support?
Long Service Leave and Rejoining Police
What is Long Service Leave (LSL)?
Long Service Leave is a benefit under the Collective Employment Agreement. It recognises employees who have served with the organisation for lengthy periods. Starting at 10 years’ service LSL provides additional leave at five-year intervals. You can find the LSL entitlements in the table in Section 4 of the Collective Employment Agreements.
What happens when I leave Police?
For staff employed pre-2003 (constables and non-sworn), there are different Long Service Leave (“LSL”) provisions for those who meet the service criteria. These provisions are more generous than for those joining Police after 1 July 2003.
We are often asked what happens if someone resigns from Police, and then rejoins later. There are a few things to consider.
For anyone resigning from Police, any LSL that you have due will be paid. This also happens if you are made redundant or receive a severance package that includes payment for LSL. This means you will have passed an entitlement due date (at least 10 years’ service) but not taken any of the LSL since that time. After 21 years’ service, a pro rata amount of the next LSL entitlement will also be paid to you.
If, when you left Police, you had the pre-2003 provisions (i.e. your employment or recognised service date was before 1 July 2003), you forfeit your right to those provisions on your rejoin. That is, your previous service may be recognised and used to calculate your LSL entitlement, but the post-2003 provisions will apply.
What is Continuous Service?
Under Section 4.1 of the Constabulary and Employee Collective Employment Agreements (CEAs) “continuous” means “without a break”. However, section 4.1 also allows you to have a break in service of up to 15 months if you:
- Cease working with Police but rejoin before 15 months;
- Are on Leave Without Pay (including Parental Leave) from Police; or
- Have resigned for the purposes of childcare under clause 5.2 of the CEAs.
If you have a break of up to 15 months in these circumstances, Police will recognise your previous service when calculating your leave entitlements. The date you would become entitled to service-related provisions will be delayed by the time you were away from Police. If you are away for longer than 15 months you will start from zero, as Police will not recognise your previous service.
Police will also recognise service from another “qualifying organisation”.
What is a Qualifying Organisation?
Your service does not have to be entirely with Police. There are a limited number of public sector agencies that are recognised when it comes to calculating your service. Qualifying organisations are listed in Schedule 1 of the State Sector Act. There are some explicit exclusions as well and these are listed in the CEAs. Which organisations are recognised or excluded is determined by the date at which you joined Police and cannot be retrospectively applied.
You should always have your previous service with a qualifying organisation recognised in writing by Police. You will need to get a certificate of service from any qualifying organisation you’ve worked for in the past showing clearly what LSL entitlement you were entitled to, had taken and/or had paid out on termination. You cannot have a break of more than 15 months between each period of employment with a qualifying organisation or Police will not recognise your service.
I’m rejoining – what am I entitled to?
Well, the short answer is – it depends!
a) How long was the break between when you left Police and when you will be sworn in again (for constables) or you commence employment again (for Police employees)?
b) What LSL have you received, taken and/or been paid for in the past, from any qualifying organisation including Police?
c) What date was your original service date with Police: before or after 1 July 2003, and what date did you rejoin Police?
d) Have you worked for any other qualifying organisations?; if so:
- What was the length of time between leaving any other qualifying organisation and joining/re-joining Police?
- When and what happened with any LSL you became entitled to whilst working there?
All these things considered, it’s not a straight answer.
If your previous service is recognised, then you will have two key dates for your employment:
1. Your new employment date: the date you rejoined Police
2. Your recognised service date: the date Police use to calculate your leave entitlements. This is usually the earliest date you commenced employment with a qualifying organisation, where no periods of employment with qualifying organisations are separated by a break of 15 months or more.
For example: you worked with Police from 2000 – 2002, left and went to a non-qualifying organisation for a period of 3 years to 2005. You then worked for a qualifying organisation from December 2005 and returned to Police from that role in December 2007. Your original Police service will not be recognised due to the break of 24 months (i.e. a break of more than 15 months breaks service). However, your service from the start of your time with the qualifying organisation in 2005 would be recognised. Your recognised service date would be December 2005.
As your length of recognised service is used to calculate your LSL entitlement you may reach your next service level more quickly. For those rejoining with pre-2003 recognised Police service, you will no longer be entitled to receive LSL under the pre-2003 conditions. The post-2003 LSL provisions apply because your new date of employment is after 1 July 2003.
The pre-2003 provisions are generous, and they are in place to recognise employees who have not left Police. Leaving Police means you lose that benefit, but you may be eligible to fast-track through to your next entitlement based on your recognised service.
Where can I get further advice or support?
What is an over payment?
An overpayment is when an employee receives wages or allowances that he/she is not entitled to receive for the work carried out.
How has my over payment happened?
There are many reasons that overpayments can occur, especially in large organisations. The reason for these is normally (but not limited to) one of the following:
- A misunderstanding of an employment agreement.
- A clerical error (Human Error).
- A technical fault in the payroll system.
- A time delay in information being received/processed resulting in retrospective changes.
It wasn’t my fault – do I have to pay it back?
Any employer, Police included, have the right to request the repayment of overpaid salaries and allowances and our Constabulary and Employee Employment Collectives allow for this: Section 1.11, Deductions from Salary and Over Payments.
There are, however, certain situations where we believe the employee may be entitled to keep the overpayment. For example:
- if you have received an offer of employment letter that includes a rate of remuneration and/or allowances that Police later identify was a mistake it may mean there is an argument that this offer cannot be changed.
- advised payroll/HR etc that you had identified or queried a possible overpayment, and nothing was done at the time (police policy says notification within 5 days of being identified)
- received the money in good faith, believing it to be correct and have genuinely committed the money elsewhere i.e., mortgage and returning the money at this point would have a negative financial impact.
If the overpayment has happened due to retrospective changes, such as amending leave or cancelling allowances, then in good faith, you should pay back the monies owing.
Because every situation is different, if in doubt contact the Association for further assistance/advise.
Can Police just deduct the over payment from my wages?
No. In Section 1.11 of the collective agreements and under the Wages Protection Act 1983, the employer needs to get the employees’ written consent for the deductions to be made from your wages.
Do I have to repay the over payment as a lump sum?
No. Payroll needs to work with you to come up with a repayment plan that is feasible, sustainable, and agreeable to both parties.
Police cannot demand the total overpayment to be repaid in one go or set a fortnightly repayment amount. As everyone’s financial situation is different, work out an amount you can manage without causing undue hardship and stress.
The Association does, however, support paying debt off as quickly as possible, so when working out your repayment plan, do this realistically. An offer of $2 a fortnight is likely to be rejected!
I agreed to a repayment plan but now I can’t afford it!
Don’t stress – if you are struggling to repay the agreed amount, simply write to Payroll and request the amount to be amended to a more affordable rate.
How do I pay the money back?
Once the repayment plan has been agreed, you can either:
- Have the monies deducted from your wages, or
- Set up a direct credit to the bank account advised by Payroll.
Over payments in limited circumstances?
In strictly limited circumstances, the employer can recover an overpayment for any period that an employer does not have to pay wages because during that period the employee has:
- been absent from work without that employer's authority
- been on strike
- been locked out (due to industrial action)
- been suspended.
These are the only circumstances in which an employer can recover overpayment of wages as of right, without requiring the employee’s written consent, and only if it was not reasonably practical for the employer to avoid the overpayment.
The employer must give the employee notice of the overpayment that they will be recovering.
The overpayment must be recovered within two months after the employer lets the employee know.
Where can I get more advice or support?
What is performance management?
While this is a term often linked to performance issues; performance management is a process for managers, supervisors, team leaders etc to ensure that the whole team’s performance is meeting organisation and / or department goals. Performance management can centre on the performance of an organisation, a department, an employee, or specific projects.
How might this apply to me?
Performance management applies to everyone in your organisation. All employees have performance measures that they should be meeting in line with Police strategy and expectations of their role. Regular performance review discussions (informal and formal) should occur throughout the year to discuss successes, goals, career development, any support needed to be effective in your role and possible areas for improvement.
How should I raise the fact that I would like more support with my manager?
You should be having regular performance review meetings with your manager which would be a good opportunity to raise this. If this is not the case, then make a time you can meet and not be interrupted or distracted. Think about what support you are asking for i.e. internal or external skills training, mentoring and who that mentor could be if you have someone in mind. Also think about how you might want to frame your request. These should be collaborative, professional and outline how it will not only benefit you but the wider team due to the knowledge, skill, experience and confidence you will gain.
What should I do if I don’t get support after I have asked for it?
Try to discuss the issue with your manager again. Outline how it would benefit you and enable you to perform your role to the best of your ability. There may be budget or resource constraints so be prepared to discuss alternative options that may be suggested. If after this you still feel you are not being adequality supported, in the first instance contact your HR department or you could escalate to the next level of seniority.
How does competency service increments (CSI) apply to performance?
Both the constabulary and employee collective agreements under clause 2.2 outline how these apply. In a nutshell you will have to meet the required certifications, standards, and competency for your role. If there is an unresolved competency issue that has been raised with you which will affect payment of your CSI, you should be advised of this well in advance to enable you an opportunity to address this. Reasonable support should be provided to help you achieve that.
What should I do if my manager advises me there are issues with my performance?
Most performance issues should be raised in the first instance through a low-level conversation. This is an opportunity for both of you to discuss any issues and for you to put your point of view across i.e. what might you need in order to resolve this, do you agree or is there information they should be aware of e.g. do you have all the information or equipment to effectively carry out the task.
You may find it challenging to hear or may disagree with what is being said, but it is really important to listen calmly and ask questions to clarify information if you need to. Remaining calm is likely to enable any issues to be resolved more easily. You may want some time to think through the information and you could ask to meet again after you have had time to consider this. You can take a support person to these meetings; however, this can escalate matters when something may be able to be resolved at a low level.
What is a performance improvement plan (PIP)?
Once an issue has been raised a number of times it may be that your manager believes that a more formal process needs to be implemented. A PIP should not be implemented the first time you are made aware of any issue(s). You should have had opportunities to discuss the issue(s) or concerns, what the expectations are of you, what outcomes they are expecting and what support will be provided before going down a more formal route. Before a discussion of a more formal nature is undertaken you should be provided an opportunity to seek support or representation. While you may want a friend or family member to provide this support think about who would be able to provide the best support and guidance in these circumstances.
What should be included in a PIP?
This is often set out as a table and should include the following:
- The issue(s) or areas of concern clearly outlined e.g. what is the problem, why is it a problem? The more specific the better e.g. “more detail needed in reports” rather than “report writing”. There should be some discussion and information included on what ‘more detail’ means for example, your manager may want more statistical information about a specific project.
- What has been done to date to address the issue(s)/concern(s), including any support already provided?
- If there are more than one concern or issue raised there should be no more than 3 or 4 on the plan otherwise it can become overwhelming and difficult to achieve.
- The issue(s)/concern(s) should relate to what has already been discussed in informal performance conversations. New issues that you are not aware of should not be included on the plan.
- What the expected standard is e.g. what would you expect to see if the standard is being met.
- When the expected standard should be achieved by. This should be realistic e.g. if you are having to learn a new system that is complex a month may not be enough.
- What further or ongoing support will be provided e.g. if training is included who will do that or if a mentor is going to be provided who that will be and how/how often will they make themselves available to you.
What if you don’t agree with what is in a PIP?
You along with your representative should be provided an opportunity to have input into the plan. Make sure that you completely understand what the issue is, what is expected of you and what support will be provided. If there are areas that you don’t believe are reasonable or accurate you should be able to provide written comment. This is also where your representative is really important as they can guide you on what may or may not be reasonable. They can also provide input if they have concerns around the process, timeframes, or level of support. If these have all been undertaken in a reasonable way even if you are not happy with being on a PIP your employer has the right to follow this process as long as they are acting in good faith e.g. providing you opportunity to seek representation and any support to help you achieve the standard.
What happens at the end if I meet all the expectations?
The plan can then be signed off showing that you have met all the expectations. It is likely to be put on your personal file as a record however, there should be an end date recorded of when this can be taken off your file depending on the issues raised. If the issues or concerns that were raised on the plan occur again within that time frame, this plan can be referred to as a basis for reinstating another PIP. However, a reasonable process including informal conversations should have occurred prior to any subsequent plan being put in place.
What happens if I don’t meet the expectations?
There should have been regular discussions through this process so that you aware of how well you are doing or where further improvement is needed. Additional support may be appropriate. The PIP may be extended depending on whether you have made some improvement but have not quite met some of the standards. If things have not been going well through this process your representative can help you. Keep them informed and involved as you go through the plan.
Where can I get further advice or support?
The information below addresses the commonly asked questions relating to restructuring processes.
For fuller explanation and detail members should refer to:
- Part seven of the applicable New Zealand Police Employee Collective Employment Agreement;
- The New Zealand Police Policy for People and restructuring
- Section 64 – “Power to transfer employees within Police” of the Policing Act 2008
NOTE: There are no restructuring provisions in the Constabulary Collective Employment Agreement as Constabulary members cannot be made redundant. However, Section 64 of the Policing Act 2008 applies where the roles of Constabulary members are impacted by a restructuring initiative.
What is restructuring?
When there are significant changes to the organisational structure of a work group, service centre and the like. The terms realignment and review are sometimes used instead of restructure.
To work out whether something is a restructuring, think about whether or not the process or proposal potentially impacts on things like structure, number of positions (especially a reduction in the number of roles), significant changes to positions (dis-establish, replace with alternative/ new roles).
What is the Association’s role?
The Association has an active role in restructuring situations. We make sure Police comply with their legal and contractual obligations and we actively represent and assist members who are potentially impacted. This does not include providing members’ feedback to Police. Members must do that themselves. However, the Association will ask members to tell us what they think about a restructuring proposal. This helps us to determine what feedback the Association will make. The feedback we provide takes a more global view rather than an individual member perspective.
Police must notify and consult with the Association on all restructuring initiatives.
What does consultation require/mean?
Police are legally and contractually obliged to consult with the Association all members potentially affected by a restructuring proposal. This includes members:
- temporarily assigned, seconded or rotated into other roles;
- on any type of leave, including LWOP and parental or maternity leave.
Consultation must be genuine, undertaken with an open mind and a willingness to change. However, consultation is not a negotiation. Nor does it require agreement. Police must genuinely consider all feedback before reaching a final decision.
Police are required to provide sufficient information so members can understand what is proposed and why, so that they can provide intelligent and useful comment on it.
Police are entitled to consult on a preferred option. The fact a proposal may be detailed does not mean the outcome is predetermined or that the consultation process is a farce.
There is no specified timeframe for the consultation process to run. This can depend on the size of the workgroup, complexity, degree and significance of the changes proposed. However, two weeks would be considered a reasonable period. However, if you feel the consultation process is insufficient, you may request an extension. You will need to say why you need the extension and suggest an alternative date.
However, Police are not obliged to agree to an extension.
The consultation process is your opportunity to provide feedback on the proposal. If you do not participate in this process, your view will not be considered in the final decision-making process. The Association urges members to actively and constructively participate in the consultation process.
What do I need to provide feedback on? And how should that be provided?
Your feedback should be on the structural changes that are being proposed. Not on the impact of the proposal on individuals. Things that you should consider in providing feedback are:
- Is this a good idea? If so, why? If not, why not?
- Is there a better way of achieving the desired outcome/s? If so, what is it? Why is it better?
There is no particular format for providing feedback. You can do this via an email, formal written submission or verbally. Members are entitled to request a meeting to discuss, raise concerns and questions about the proposal.
Who makes the final decision?
The Association understands that all restructuring initiatives are discussed and signed-off by the Executive. The final decision-maker is the Commissioner or his delegate, this is usually a Deputy or Assistant Commissioner. However, depending on the significance of the proposal, the decision-making authority can be delegated to District Commander, National Service Centre or Workgroup Manager level.
Does the final decision-maker see all the feedback submitted?
It is usual practice (both inside and outside Police) that a working / project group or person is tasked to oversee the restructuring process. This includes collating, summarising feedback themes and reporting this to the decision-maker.
The decision-maker will then make a final decision which will then be communicated to the Association and members. This usually involves releasing a final decisions document summarising:
- The reason for the restructuring;
- The general themes of the feedback received. This includes concerns, issues and alternative suggestions.
- The decision-makers response to feedback;
- The final decision,
Police do not have to make changes. However, if they do, depending on the significance of any changes they may undertake a further consultation process. However, if the changes are not significant no further consultation is required. Whether changes to a consultation proposal are significant or not will be determined on a case by case basis.
What happens once the final decision has been made and released?
The new structure will not take effect immediately. There will be a transition period. Members will continue in their roles during this period and while the reconfirmation and reassignment processes run their course.
Once the final decision is released members will then be advised of the impact that the final decision has on their position. These impacts include:
- Reconfirmation – this applies to members whose roles have remained the same or have not substantially changed or there are a lesser number of positions. In the later situation, reconfirmation into the reduced number of positions will be via a restricted reconfirmation process. Paragraph 8 below summarises the reassignment process.
- Affected by restructuring (ABR) – this applies to members whose roles have been significantly impacted by the restructuring. For example, their roles have been dis-established. Paragraph 9 summarises ABR.
What is the reassignment process?
- An appointments panel will be established
- Applicants are provided with the relevant position description and a list of the skills, including at least one technical skill
- Applicants submit their CV and an application which demonstrates their knowledge and experience for each of the skills
- The skills matching panel assesses and classifies each application into one of three categories:
- A sufficient skills match
- A sufficient skills match with training
- Insufficient skills match
- Unsuccessful applicants are then deemed “affected by restructuring” (ABR)
Attempting to place members into the new structure must be undertaken BEFORE any new or unfilled roles are advertised via the internal merit appointment process or externally.
What happens if I am notified that I am ABR?
Members who are ABR are entitled to have priority consideration for reassignment into an alternative position. The alternative position must be an existing (or pending) vacancy at the same or a lower band. Police do not have to create a position.
- The reassignment process involves members being assessed as:
- A skills match
- A skills match with training – the level of training contemplated is on the job or short courses
- Not a skills match
While this is not a merit-based appointment process, if there are a number of ABR members seeking reassignment into a role, the merit or otherwise of those applicants can reasonably be a factor.
Police are legally obliged to make every effort to place members into another position. Non-Constabulary members unable to be placed into an alternative role will be given notification of surplus. However, during the notice period efforts to find an alternative position continue.
It is important to note members also have an obligation to be proactive in exploring and suggesting alternative placement options.
- While a consultation proposal flags to disestablish a role, the incumbent is NOT ABR until after a final decision has been made, the reconfirmation and reassignment processes have been concluded and they have been notified that they are ABR.
- Members do not retain ABR status indefinitely. Once a member secures an alternative position, they are no longer ABR. Police, provided they consult with the member. can also place a member into a suitable alternative position (refer to Section 64 of the Policing Act).
Do I have to accept reassignment?
Members can decline an offer of reassignment. However, there are risks associated with doing so. These risks include:
- Police are not obliged to make an alternative reassignment offer
- Police can still place the member in the position
- Forfeiture of severance entitlements
We urge members seek advice before taking this course of action.
What is notification of severance?
Making members redundant is the option of last resort.
Members can approach Police to discuss severance at any stage of the process. However, Police are highly unlikely to agree to enter into severance discussions until after the final decision has been made and released.
Once given notification of severance, Police will provide the member with a severance calculation. This will include all outstanding leave entitlements. If members have any questions regarding severance calculations, they should, in the first instance, contact their local HR.
Where a members’ role has changed from a full-time to part time position, there is no legal or contractual entitlement to be paid severance for the lost hours of work. However, if a member wishes to explore this possibility, they should contact their local Association Field Officer.