Law 6

Case Study One: Minimum Standards Compliance

Peter was employed in a small furniture restoration business for five years.  After he received his final pay he rang a labour inspector to lay a complaint that he had not received all his holiday pay.  Peter had already contacted his employer, Donald, who said he would look into it but weeks passed and nothing happened.

The labour inspector, Sharon, spoke to Donald and obtained time and wage records and leave records.  She found that public holidays were recorded as annual leave and sick leave was recorded as absence due to accidents.  There were no records for the first half of Peter’s employment.

Donald was upset and defensive at the suggestion that his records were incorrect.  He was adamant he knew the minimum requirements in law.  Sharon uncovered conflicts between Donald’s records and Peter’s diary notes and medical reports.  It appeared to Sharon that Donald had not paid Peter all his leave.  It also appeared that Peter had taken more sick leave than he was entitled to.  Each held a very strong view of the circumstances.  Sharon explained that as a regulator her role was independent of the parties and, even if the parties resolve some matters between them, she could still progress a claim for compliance around any outstanding issues.

Sharon had two goals: to achieve a fair result for both parties and to work with Donald to ensure that future problems would not result from poor record-keeping.  She wrote a report on the minimum standards issues with her opinion on the facts as they stood.  Then she spoke to both Peter and Donald about their options.

Donald and Peter accepted Sharon’s report on the money owed to Peter but Donald said he could not afford to pay and he did not want any interference in his record-keeping.  She explained to Donald that they could reach an agreement with him on how Peter’s entitlements would be paid and some minimum requirements of record-keeping.  This would be an “enforceable undertaking” under the Employment Relations Act.  If he did not want to negotiate an agreement with her, she would consider issuing an improvement notice to require compliance.

Donald accepted the support of the labour inspector and he agreed to sign an enforceable undertaking.  Peter received the money he was owed within an agreed timeframe and Donald began to work on a plan to rectify his record-keeping practices.


Case Study 2 : Data privacy compliance

One of the world’s largest publishing companies maintained hundreds of databases around the world, each of which had to be managed in compliance with data privacy laws of the local country and countries affected by the database contents. The publisher’s small team of data privacy lawyers faced the daunting prospect of interviewing and consulting with many database managers across many time zones on four continents.

When the lawyers asked the company’s IT department to create an online system to interview and advise the database managers, the IT department recognized that traditional programming tools were not well-suited for the subtleties of the legal rules involved, or the need for rapid updates, so they referred the job to Neota Logic.

Working with the publisher’s lead data privacy lawyer and reviewing the relevant legal materials, the Neota Logic consultants created the first version of the system in a matter of days. After a few weeks of refinement, the final system:

  • Intelligently interviewed a manager of each of the hundreds of databases.
  • Identified which privacy laws are applicable based on the database location and content.
  • Determined whether the database presents a high risk of noncompliance.
  • Generated a compliance report specifying each applicable requirement and providing related advice to the manager.
  • Sent an email to the appropriate lawyer notifying him or her of the session and attaching a report for follow-up by the lawyer if needed.
  • Input all facts gathered and conclusions drawn during the session into a database so reports could be generated on the use of system and publisher’s overall compliance with data privacy laws.

Data managers could do the legal interview at their convenience and get immediate, specific guidance.

Lawyers leveraged their small team to perform hundreds of detailed audits and assessments that they could not have done otherwise—better service to more people, and more time to focus on the hardest cases.

IT staff met the company’s needs without burdening scarce internal IT resources.

Senior management demonstrated compliance to data privacy regulators around the world.

Donald accepted the support of the labour inspector and he agreed to sign an enforceable undertaking.  Peter received the money he was owed within an agreed timeframe and Donald began to work on a plan to rectify his record-keeping practices.