News & Updates

6 myth busters about Employment Agreements

Whether you are employing a new person, or adjusting your employment agreements to build greater flexibility into your workforce, “Which contract should I use?” is probably the most common question I’m asked.

If costs are getting too much don’t leave it too late to restructure

Sadly, I am now starting to have a lot more conversations about the need for downsizing and restructuring. As a business owner, making people redundant is probably the hardest thing you will ever have to do, so people do put it off, often until it is too late.

But how can I do it, I don’t want to lay anyone off?
Even for me (and I don’t know the people personally) making someone redundant is hard. However, my self mantra is:
1. Make sure I am making the right decisions for the right reasons.
2. Focus on the jobs I am saving, not on those who are being made redundant.
3. Be as supporting and sympathetic to those who are being made redundant.

Resources supplied by Provider to The Engine: HRtoolkit –

Trial periods for everyone, what does it mean?

Well, the government didn’t waste time enacting their 100-day plan and Fair Pay agreements were repealed on 20th December, and the Trial Periods were extended back out to include all employers (not just those with under 20 staff) with effect from 23rd December.  And minimum wage will increase by 45 cents, or 2% to $23.15 per hour with effect from 1 April 2024.

Lessons from WorkSafe Prosecutions

Two prosecutions that were reported at the end of 2023 provide a sobering reminder regarding the duties of PCBUs in the building and construction industry. These incidents involve high risk activities with devastating consequences for the workers and families affected. PCBU’s must remain vigilant by continually reviewing and monitoring their health and safety systems. This article summarises these two recent prosecutions.

Click below to read full article.

The Impact of Company Liquidation on Employees

The recent closure of online supermarket retailer Supie has highlighted the challenges faced by employees when their employer enters liquidation. This process often results in a “lose-lose” situation for all parties involved. The decision to liquidate an insolvent company is made when there are insufficient funds to cover all creditors, including employees. In most cases, the insolvent company will cease operations, and employees’ employment will abruptly end.

Click below to read full article.

How Well Do You Know Your Customer?

We recently prepared a set of terms and conditions for small jobs for a residential builder client. The client felt that the standard form building contracts were too complicated for smaller jobs and needed a simpler set of terms for these smaller jobs.

In preparing the terms we asked the client a few questions regarding what checks they do as part of deciding whether to take on a job. Checking some basic facts about your customer is really important because whilst it is important to have a strong pipeline of work, we all need to be sure that the person we are dealing with has necessary authority and that we will ultimately get paid.

Click below to read full article.

The Power of Trusts in Protecting Your Assets

There have been many headlines recently about changes to the trustee tax rate and whether it may signal the end of New Zealand’s ‘love affair’ with trusts. While bringing the trustee tax rate into line with the top personal tax rate may mean some people no longer find them attractive, it is certainly not the end for trusts.

Click below to read full article.

How Much Does a Virtual Assistant Cost?

Woohoo! Business is booming and you need some extra help to stay on top of that never-ending to-do list.

If you’ve started looking for a Virtual Assistant (VA) to help you out, you’ve probably realised that within the industry, there are a huge range of options, each at a different price point. 

While the price of a virtual assistant can vary significantly, the more expensive option isn’t always the better one for you and your business.  

New Changes for Suppliers of Building Products

On 3 June 2021 Parliament passed the Building (Building Products and Methods, Modular Components and Other Matters) Amendment Bill ( Bill), which is the first phase of the wider building system legislative reform programme that aims to “lift the efficiency and quality of building work and provide fairer outcomes if things go wrong”.

Highlights from The Engine Business Forum – Workplace Wellness

We were very excited to host our first Forum for 2022 on Workplace Wellness. Having businesses return to these types of events was encouraging and what a turn out it was! Over 100 businesses started their morning at 7:30am with a light breakfast & networking and finished at 2pm with a great deal of insights, connections and from what we heard satisfied bellies from breakfast, morning tea and lunch. Click the link below to check out our event highlights and photos of the day.

Press Release – New Business Advisor Christine Rankin

Founder of The Engine, Catherine Cooke is delighted to announce Christine Rankin has joined The Engine as a Business Advisor with specialisation as a Leadership Expert.

How to write compelling emails that sell with the Mind-Switch Method

The Mind-Switch Method provides a structured approach to creating story-based emails that tap into people’s emotions and shift their beliefs, so they buy.

It’s a simple formula that takes people through 3 phases – these are the 3 H’s:
Hook, Hold and Help.
The aim of the Hook is to get people’s attention so they read on.
The Hold is to introduce an idea that relates to your product or service.
And Help is used to tie the learning from the concept into a call to action.

Vaccine Mandates – What Employers Need to Know

As we move towards the Covid protection framework (otherwise known as the ‘Traffic Light System’), a number of businesses
may find that they are covered by a vaccine mandate. Under the vaccine mandate, all employees carrying out specific work must
be vaccinated against Covid-19 or have a valid medical exemption.
In this newsletter, we have guidance for employers who may be affected by this requirement. Please note that this guidance is
current as at the date of publication and should not be relied on as legal advice.

Growing strong with ScotPac

In 2013, after 20 years as a chartered accountant, Wade Glass embraced his entrepreneurial spirit to take on new ventures of his own. His initial journey began with financial help from ScotPac and he has continued to grow with their ongoing support and encouragement.

This resource is made available to you through The Engine’s Provider ScotPac.
The Engine is a Leading Business Advisory Company helping educate and empower business owners.

How to increase profit

If you’re looking for ways to increase your profitability then you have to focus your attention on the four profit determining factors: price, volume, variable costs and fixed costs.

Look at each of these four factors in terms of:

• the factor
• what possible action you could take and
• what conditions would have to occur to change the outcome?

View PDF for the guide on “How to Increase Profit”

This resource is made available to you through The Engine’s Provider Walker Wayland.
The Engine is a Leading Business Advisory Company helping educate and empower business owners.

Covid-19 Response Legislation Bill: Impacts for Commercial Leases

Both landlords and tenants were surprised by the Government’s sudden announcement that it had introduced changes to help ease the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on both commercial and residential tenancies, to take effect from 28 September 2021. The changes to commercial tenancies had been foreshadowed last year but did not become law.

This resource is made available to you through The Engine’s Provider Martelli McKegg.
The Engine is a Leading Business Advisory Company helping educate and empower business owners.


As we retreat to our homes, and do business in a different way, it’s a new opportunity to look at the systems and processes in your business that need a redo.
– Are there areas in your business where you can do more delegation?
– Are there areas in your business where you can cut costs through a streamlined automation system?

Employment Relations Authority – Determination – 1 September 2021

116 Whilst no serious misconduct or performance issues were evident and the ending of the employment was prompted by extraordinary external factors outside the control of the parties I cannot conclude that GF could not have avoided being dismissed. On the contrary given the nature of the role, its clear communicated expectations and profile, I find that GF should have reasonably anticipated that the issue of a vaccination would come up when accepting the position of a front-line border protection officer. The unjustified dismissal and disadvantage and breach of good faith claims are not established.

Can I mandate to make vaccinations compulsory?

Back in April, I sent a newsletter advising that you can’t make it compulsory for someone to have a COVID Vaccination. This advice has NOT changed. However, the acceptance that the requirement for vaccination is reasonable Health and Safety requirements is certainly increasing.

How to take back control with CRM when events derail your business

There’s an old saying – trite, but no less true – that when life serves you up lemons, make lemonade. That’s not to say, let’s turn bad things (like lockdown) into sugar and sunshine because that’s stupid; it means to make the best of your circumstances. But how?

Wage Subsidy, Reducing Wages and Restructuring best practices – LinkedIn Live 30th August 2021

An on topic discussion with our founder Catherine Cooke (née Sherwood) with Aimee Elia Claire Mansell, lawyers from Martelli McKegg and Lisa Mackay founder of HRToolkit.

Between our experts we discussed the cliff, the ambulance – how to avoid it and sometimes you can’t, what help is available.

Are you ready for the Wage subsidy to end?

For many business, the Wages subsidy payments have been a godsend, and have kept the business afloat.
However, there are strong hints from the Finance Minister that the “Bottomless Pit of money” is not quite so bottomless.

Vaccination roll-out for children: hurdles under the Care of Children Act

With today’s announcement that the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine has been
approved for children aged 12 to 15 years, many parents will now be
considering whether to vaccinate their children. But what happens when two
parents (who are legal guardians of their children) can’t agree on this critical

Payment of Wages during Lockdown

As we start our first day of lockdown, many employers will be wondering whether or
not they need to pay employees who cannot work during lockdown. Last lockdown
there was no clear authority on this point, however the Employment Court
decision, Gate Gourmet New Zealand Limited v Sandhu clarifies the situation

Penalties Increase for Cartel Conduct

On 8 April 2021 new changes to the Commerce Act 1986 came into effect which provided that cartel conduct can now be punished with a term imprisonment of up to 7 years. This change brings New Zealand into line with other overseas jurisdictions and reinforces to businesses that they need to take compliance with this area of the law very seriously.

Governance AKA setting the boundaries

Governance tends to be something that is dismissed by small businesses as “not applicable, because that only applies to Corporates!”….sorry, wrong, if anything the impact of poor governance can be horrendous on small businesses. Governance is about setting the rules and boundaries from the outset and sticking to them.

Can I fire someone or not hire them for not getting a COVID 19 Vaccination?

No, you can’t make this compulsory.  Under the NZ Bill of rights act 1990 everyone has the right to refuse to undergo medical treatment.
However, and this is where It gets more complicated, The Health and Safety at work act 2015 you have a legal obligation to take all reasonably practicable steps to provide a safe working environment

Managing sick leave so you don’t get caught out if the law changes

There is currently a Bill before the Select Committee to increase the amount of employer funded sick leave to 10 days. This is NOT law as yet, though the vast majority of people that I have spoken to believe that it will pass into legislation. So, what can you do to prepare for this change?

Jan 2021 Minimum wage is increasing – HRToolkit

In effect from 1 April 2021 which represents another 5.8% increase, or a 31.1% increase over the last 5 years. Unfortunately, this is about 3 times the rate of inflation over the same period, and this rate of increase is liable to continue until such time as the Minimum wage and the Living Wage are in alignment. Or, in other words, someone who was on minimum wage in April 2016 of $15.25, would now be being paid $16.42 if they had received CPI increases each year.

2021 march Bonus schemes – HR Toolkit

We all love a bonus, so they are a fantastic motivational tool. Often giving a far greater return on effort than is necessarily commensurate with the actual monetary value involved. I’ve seen people fight tooth and nail (not literally!) to win the prized Chocolate Fish. However, they also drive the behaviour which will reap the rewards and that can create inadvertent issues. You also need to ensure that the rules of giving bonuses ensure that they aren’t paid out when they really can’t/shouldn’t be.

When a beneficiary can become a settlor

The Inland Revenue have issued a policy document to clarify the position of undrawn beneficiary accounts in trusts. From 1 April 2020 a beneficiary of a trust whose current account balance at the end of the income year is not greater than $25,000 do not become settlors.

What is my PIR and why does it matter?

When you invest in a multi-rate PIE you need to provide them with your prescribed investor rate (PIR) and your IRD number.  Making sure you pay the correct amount of tax that applies to your situation is essential so you don’t get caught short at the end of the year.

Tax Payments – When are these received in time?

Inland Revenue (IR) has recently updated its policy for when tax payments are accepted as having been made in time.

With the influence of technology there has been a significant shift in practice to use digital methods for making tax payments. IR encourages customers to use direct banking facilities when they make tax payments (or when refunds are issued).


A quick summary of the deductibility of entertainment cost including fully deductible expenses, 50% deductible entertainment expenses and gifts to clients. 

Ring Fencing Rules & Tax Policy Update

Recently, new subpart EL of the Income Tax Act 2007 introduces rules to ring-fence deductions for residential properties to income from those properties.

Individual’s Made Easy

With the yearend fast approaching or has just been it is important for individuals to remember that they are not required to file a tax return with the IRD if their only sources of income during the year ended 31 March 2020 have come from the following categories outlined below:

Are all shareholders on the same page?

When starting a new business with another person, or introducing a new shareholder, there are many aspects of the business competing for your time. Often the relationship between shareholders may be overlooked as you just want to get on with things. However, over time you might find that you and your other shareholders have quite different ideas for the direction of the business and how it should be managed. Agreeing a robust shareholders agreement from the outset should help to avoid problems in the future.

The new Trusts Act and its implications for Trustees

The Trusts Act 2019 (Act) comes into effect in January 2021, providing the first major reform to trust law in over 70 years. Although the Act implements
significant changes, the over-arching purpose of the new legislation is to restate the existing law in a more accessible format, so that it can better assist beneficiaries in holding trustees to account. The Act clearly sets out a range of obligations as well as a list of “Mandatory Duties” and “Default
Duties” to follow. The obligations include a requirement for:
• every trustee to hold a copy of the trust deed and any variations
• at least one of the trustees must hold the rest of the “core trust documents”.
N.B. the Act sets out what thecore documents are.

As the name suggests, Mandatory Duties cannot be contracted out of, and therefore must be followed, whereas the Default Duties can be modified or excluded in appropriate circumstances.

Are you sure you can make that environmental claim?

Consumers are increasingly basing their purchasing decisions on the environmental impact of the product or service. As a result, environmental claims made by businesses about their goods or services are becoming more common in advertising.
The Commerce Commission has recently released guidelines for businesses making environmental claims to help businesses understand their obligations and how to avoid breaching the Fair Trading Act (available at The guidelines emphasise how accurate businesses must be when making environmental claims as the penalties for getting it wrong can be serious (the maximum fine is $200,000 for individuals or $600,000 for corporates).

Can I trust ‘my’ Trust if my relationship breaks down?

‘Can I trust ‘my’ Trust if my relationship breaks down?

It is generally well understood that if your relationship comes to an end your relationship property must be shared 50/50 pursuant to the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (PRA). But, some people believe that if they transfer their assets to a Trust, then those assets will be protected.

This is rarely true.There are a number of provisions available under the PRA and at common law, which would allow a Trust owned home, for example, to be included in the pool for division. Particularly where the house was transferred to a Trust when the couple were already in a relationship (even if at the time the couple were only boyfriend and girlfriend / girlfriend and girlfriend / boyfriend and boyfriend or whatever applies). If contributions have been made from relationship property to the family trust, or contributions from the other party whether financial or non-financial, or if the Trust has provided benefit to the parties in some manner during their relationship, then the trust assets can be fair game.

Women doing business – ‘The Heart of a Community’

At Scottish Pacific, we’re passionate about offering our expertise and support throughout the community growing NZ businesses. Over the last four years we’ve built a solid friendship and strategic partnership with director of The Engine, Catherine Sherwood. As well as being a renowned business advisor and entrepreneur, Catherine brings businesses and communities together to collaborate and share knowledge to build sustainable and long-term success.

Government Announcement re small business rent disputes

There has been much debate regarding what a fair rental reduction is under commercial leases where businesses have been affected by COVID-19. The Government had previously done nothing to assist either Landlords or Tenants in this situation.This morning Government have announced a compulsory rent dispute process where the Landlord and Tenant have been unable to agree on a fair rent reduction during COVID-19 lockdown, which requires compulsory arbitration with Government subsidising the arbitration by about 75%.This new process is to come into effect from today (4 June 2020) but will only apply in relation to businesses with 20 or fewer full-time employees on the site.

COVID response – Safe Harbours and Debt Hibernation Scheme now law

On 15 May 2020 the COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Act 2020 became law. This means that two key insolvency measures aimed at addressing the serious insolvency risks arising from the COVID-19 crisis – the “safe harbour” regime and the “debt hibernation scheme” – are now effective in New Zealand. Martelli McKegg (we) wrote about these measures when they were announced, but before the details had been finalised. We have also written a detailed analysis of these new measures, to be found here. In summary, the following key measures are now in place.Safe HarboursCompany directors of eligible companies are now temporarily exempt from the director’s duties contained in sections 135 and 136 of the Companies Act regarding reckless trading and incurring obligations.

Time for a change? Buying a franchise?

The impact of COVID-19 may be felt for many months to come and will result in a number of people considering a change of direction or career. For some, the prospect of buying a business and being in more control of your own destiny will be appealing. Franchising will be a popular option for those who have not owned a business before and a number of franchisors have seen their levels of enquiry increase over the lockdown period.Franchising gives people the opportunity to own their own business but also to be part of a structured system that provides mentoring and guidance. During the current crisis, it has been valuable for franchisees to be part of a wider franchise system to receive support regarding dealing with suppliers, landlords and understanding the Government assistance available. These are just some of the benefits of being part of a franchise system as opposed to being out on your own.

Changes to the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme: Abnormal Lending on Normal Terms

On Friday, 1 May 2020, the Government announced changes to the operation of the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme (BFGS). As readers might recall, the BFGS was introduced as part of its initial economic approach to the COVID-19 response. The specific change announced was that it would no longer be a Government requirement that a bank which was making a loan of more than $50,000 under the scheme would have to take security against the debtor’s default by way of a General Security Agreement (security over all of the assets of a debtor in the event of a loan default) – although a bank is still entitled to ask for security if it wishes to do so.

Covid-19 – Resumption of building work at Alert Level 3

Property owners and builders alike will have welcomed the Government announcement this week that the country will move to Alert Level 3 on 28 April, meaning that most on-site construction work can begin again from that date. The initial joy (and relief) of this news, however, will be quickly tempered by the realisation that it is not going to be business as usual for some time yet.

Alert Level 3 – Implications for Commercial Contracts and Leases

The Government has announced that most, but not all, businesses can start to open when we shift to Alert Level 3. The businesses that do open must take health measures to keep their workers safe and workers must work from home if they can. Retail and hospitality businesses can only open for delivery and contactless pre-ordered pick up. Businesses cannot offer services which involve face to face contact or sustained close contact (e.g. hair-dressing).

Significant changes to Company Law announced

On Friday, 3 April 2020, the Government announced significant insolvency law changes in response to the likely economic impact of COVID-19 and the current lockdown ( ). The Government will amend the Companies Act 1993 to provide additional comfort to directors of companies during the next six months, and will also introduce “Covid-19 Business Debt Hibernation” as an option to help businesses survive the deterioration in the business environment ( ). Parliament will have to pass legislation to give effect to the proposed changes, although the proposed legislation has not been made public.

Covid-19 – Tax & Wage Subsidy – Common questions on support for Employers during COVID-19

If, as an employer I am receiving the wage subsidy on behalf of an employee, do I have to pay GST on the subsidy?
No – it will be treated as exempt from GST.
As an employer, do I have to pay tax on the wage subsidy I receive for an employee?
No, you don’t have to pay tax on a wage subsidy as it’s classified as excluded income.

Covid-19 – Lockdown Level 4 – Commercial Contracts & Leases – Martelli-McKegg

The latest business restrictions announced by the Government will impact a number of commercial contracts and leasing arrangements.  We have been receiving a number of enquiries regarding the impact of these events on commercial contracts and leases and, in particular: Whether contractual rights are suspended under force majeure clauses? Whether there is any rent relief available under commercial leases? We set out below a general overview on each of these topics but it is important to note that each contract or lease needs to be carefully reviewed in order to properly assess your position.


With the nation now in lock-down phase as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, many employers are considering how they can look after their businesses as well as their employees. For some, government subsidies will allow a degree of continuity in staffing whilst others will need to make changes that will adversely affect their employees. We touch upon some key topics below.

COVID-19 Tax Relief for Businesses

New Zealand government has offered some tax relief due to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). In regards to provisional tax, you may be able to make an estimate or re-estimate your provisional tax using the estimation option of calculating provisional tax and refunds will be arranged by Inland Revenue if the tax is overpaid. Provisional Tax threshold will be increased from $2,500 to $5,000 from the 2020/21 tax year.

Business Forum – ‘Workplace Wellbeing’ 22 July 2020 @ Lula Inn – The Viaduct

The 2020 Workplace Wellness Business Forum is to be held on 22 July 2020 at The Lula Inn, Viaduct, Auckland. The Engine & Business Strategy NZ with main sponsor Scottish Pacific Business Finance have brought together experts Tony Alexander (Economist), Charlotte Lockhart, CEO 4 Day Week Global & John Shackleton (Resilience & Mindfulness Coach, Trainer & Speaker) on this topic. As well as practical information for your business you will walk away with 20+ new business connections.

IRD Audit Hospo Industry 2020

IRD have just advised that this year they are specifically targeting the Hospitality industry and will be contacting clients in this industry and thanking them for keeping their books in order and also encouraging owners to put their records right if they’ve left anything off their past tax returns.