Our AdviceLine has been a key source of information for members over the past financial year. The team took 29,991 calls and 3,009 email inquiries on mostly Employment Relations and Human Resources issues.
More than 12 per cent of the calls were in the latter part of the year related directly to COVID-19, whether it be leave entitlements, restructure and redundancy or for policies such as working from home.
March and April saw the largest number of calls fielded by AdviceLine, with 4,425 and 3,063 calls respectively, and its hours were extended and additional new and existing staff were added to the team to ensure all members’ queries were answered.
In addition to our own member AdviceLine, when COVID-19 hit we were also part of the Government’s solution to provide information for all businesses through the nationwide Business Helpline.
The EMA received Government funding to very quickly establish the Business Helpline in April, training and redeploying its own staff to provide specific advice on access to Government support; advice on alert levels; human resources and general business advice; and connections to business advisory services.
This was separate to, but complemented the AdviceLine service for EMA member businesses.
EMA Legal continued a steady growth pattern in member demand for services and products and performed well during the COVID-19 lockdown period, with the team meeting the challenge of working from home while providing high quality legal advice to member businesses.
The team is made up of specialist employment lawyers who provide advice and representation for only EMA members, at competitive rates. While the core group of lawyers are based in Auckland, we are conscious of building capability in other areas of our region, particularly Waikato and the Bay of Plenty where we currently have one specialist in each region.
Over the past financial year EMA’s Legal team has created a number of new products for sale to members and non-members, including 21 updated policy documents and five new practical HR Practice Tool Kits, all of which have sold well.
This has contributed to the combined Employment Relations Consultancy, OSH, Legal Services and Publications revenue of $3,562,400, which is slightly up on the previous financial year.
The Legal team continues to work alongside Advocacy to deliver three Member Briefings a year, and Head of Legal and General Counsel Matthew Dearing appeared on a number of the COVID-19 Web Series sessions, particularly on restructure, redundancy and leave.
Several of the EMA’s lawyers also continue to provide legal services for Business Central members, with senior lawyer Michael Witt taking the lead in developing client relationships to gain more work. Revenue generated from Business Central activities is increasing and is expected to continue to do so.
In the coming year EMA Legal is looking at how it could also supply its services to other BusinessNZ network partners, particularly the Christchurch Employers Chamber of Commerce and the Otago Southland Employers Association. We already have a South Island-based team member.
new HR Practice Tool Kits
companies engaged EMA’s legal or consultancy services
During the past financial year the Consultants once again helped members with high volumes of complex employment, industrial and health & safety (H&S) matters. The area of collective bargaining and union issues has continued to pick up momentum and is a specialist area for the team. A new H&S consultant joined the team to assist with expanding capabilities with SMEs and has proven a valuable addition.
Highlighting the longstanding relationship with a group of businesses in this sector, Consultancy once again negotiated the Metals Collective Agreement. This is viewed as a yearly benchmark for collective agreements by unions, industries, and employers.
During COVID-19 the team was engaged more in profitable restructuring and personal grievances work, and also turned their hand to providing free email support to members as part of the AdviceLine service.
As with the rest of the EMA team, Consultants adapted seamlessly to working from home through COVID-19 and their expertise was invaluable to many members.