Employment Records

Recording Information

As employers, boards will need to keep and remember a certain amount of information. This can be divided into the following categories:

Some records are required by law.

In all cases, boards are required, in terms of the Privacy Act 1993, to ensure that the information should be collected by lawful, reasonably unobtrusive, and fair means, and be complete, relevant, and up to date. Boards are also required to take reasonable steps to ensure personal information is stored securely.

Employees have a right to request access to information on their personal file and are entitled to seek correction where any information is considered inaccurate. There are some situations where an employer may refuse to give a person access to their personal information. These are set out in the Privacy Act 1993. They include the situation where the information is evaluative material and the disclosure of that evaluative material would breach an express or implied promise of confidentiality. If a person believes that the personal information the agency holds about him or her is incorrect, that person can ask that it be corrected. Boards have a responsibility to ensure that the personal information they hold is accurate, up to date, complete and not misleading. Where an agency believes that the information that it holds is correct, it may refuse to change it. The person may then ask that a statement of the correction that they asked to have made and the board has refused to make be attached to the information. Where this occurs, the board must attach the statement to the personal information in such a way that it will always be read in conjunction with the information in issue.

Individual employee records

These records will contain information specific to the individual employee. Boards of trustees have inherited certain basic information from the former employing authorities, which will apply to their existing employees. Further information will be gained from any new employees appointed (see Appointments).

The records supplied to boards are likely to consist of:

Other information which is likely to be added to the employee's personal file would include:

It is important to keep these files up to date and secure by filing all relevant papers as they arise.

If the employee leaves the school, a record should be placed on their file as to final date of employment and any specific payments made; for instance, for unused leave.

General personnel records

Boards are also likely to want to keep files of information on the following areas:

Other records

Time and wages

Employers are required under the Employment Relations Act 2000, to keep the following wages and time records showing:

Holidays

Under the Holidays Act 2003, boards are required to record:

It is recommended that boards check from time to time that they could produce the above information if called upon to do so by an employee's authorised representative or a labour inspector. If accurate records are not kept and a dispute arises, the court may, in the absence of proof to the contrary, accept the employee's claims.

Accidents

Boards are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of anyone permitted to come on to school premises (see also other material for more general application in schools). In this regard, schools are responsible for complying with the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE Act) and the Ministry of Educations Health and Safety Code of Practice for State and State-Integrated Schools (the "code").

The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 requires that employers maintain a register of accidents and serious harm.
Boards and particularly the principals will have received material and information to assist them in developing and maintain appropriate procedures to meet the requirements of the legislation.

There is a joint NZSTA/ACC pack containing easy to use workbooks for meeting the requirements of the legislation called WorkSafe series for schools.

Boards should record in the register:

§ every occurrence of serious harm to an employee while at work, or as a result of any hazard to which the employee was exposed while at work, in the employment of the board.

Where serious harm or accidents occur, boards are required to:

A form giving notice or record of accident/serious harm is reproduced in the pack. This form is not compulsory and boards could use their own providing it gives the required information.

Serious harm is defined in the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 as:

Work stoppages

Boards are also required under the Employment Relations Act 2000 to keep records of work stoppages. A work stoppage is industrial action which results in a total or partial reduction of labour for a continuous period of time. It includes strikes and lockouts, overtime bans, work to rule, and where applicable could include paid union meetings going significantly beyond the maximum 2 hours for any one meeting.

If a strike or lockout occurs, the employer of the employees participating in the strike or affected by the lockout must:

The MBIE treats information from stoppage returns as confidential.

Design and storage of recorded information

For some information which is repetitive, a board may choose to design standard forms on which to record information and to make finding that information on a file easier (for example, schedules of teacher service).

Principle 5 of the Privacy Act 1993 requires that personal information be secure against loss, modification, or misuse to the extent that is reasonable in the circumstances. It also provides that, where it is necessary for information to be given to a person in connection with the provision of a service to the agency, everything reasonably within the power of the agency is done to prevent unauthorised use or unauthorised disclosure of the information. Boards that are handing personal information to other agencies in connection with the provision of a service of the board have a responsibility to ensure that the other agency will be complying with the Privacy Act. One way of doing this is to provide for compliance in any agreement with that agency.

Individual employee files, in particular, should be stored in a secure place, for example, a locked cabinet. Access to files should be limited to as few people as possible on a "need to know" basis (for example, the principal and staffing committee of the board of trustees) rather than a "like to know" basis. Storage of duplicate copies of essential personnel information should also be considered, in case of accidental destruction of original files.

When an employee leaves the school, it is expected that their file would be retained by the board for a certain period in case of any future inquiries (for example, wages and time records must be kept for 7 years).

Official information

The law about access to official information is found in the Official Information Act 1982. The law has two primary purposes:

The guiding principle of the Act is that information must be made available if requested, unless a reason exists under the Act for withholding it.

Part 4 of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 provides a right of access to personal information. This right extends to each employee of a board of trustees in respect of any information kept by the board on that employee (that is, their file). The employee is further provided with the opportunity under the Act to correct any personal information held.

In some instances, boards can withhold information and boards should consult the Act or the NZSTA for further details. Confidentiality is important.

Transfer of recorded information

If an employee leaves the school to work for another board of trustees, originals of certain information should be supplied to the new board (the board should retain photocopies of this information for its files for the appropriate retention period).

The information should be kept to a minimum. Only that which is relevant to the employment/service needs of the new employer and information on the appropriate entitlements is necessary.

For example:

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