Employee benefits

Benefits and allowances

Offering enticing working arrangements and benefits is a great way to attract and retain staff, especially in a tight labour market. Which benefits suit which business will vary for each employer. Some ideas include:

Flexible working arrangements, or working from home options

While this may not always be applicable in the retail industry, there may be some ways this can apply. Read more below on flexible working arrangements for retail.

Wellbeing allowance

Usually a set amount per year for the employee to spend on experiences, items or memberships that support their wellbeing.

Store discounts

Birthday leave

Additional paid day of leave for the employee’s birthday.

Long service leave

An additional week of leave (or amount you decide) after the employee has completed an agreed period of service (typically this is a number of years).

Offering professional development

Offering promotion opportunities

Other perks or treats

Morning tea shout perhaps at the end of the working week

Before implementing any benefit or allowances it is important that you:

  • assess the financial implications of any benefit or allowance before offering these to employees
  • create clear guidance and policies for the entitlement and use of any benefit or allowance.

Flexible working arrangements

Offering flexible working arrangements that support a healthy work-life balance might be attractive for some employees. However, in traditional retailing, especially when it comes to the shop floor, it can be hard for an employer to be flexible. Sometimes it’s a challenge to be flexible with start or finish times, or even giving employees the option to be rostered off on a specific day.

When an employee requests a flexible work arrangement, we encourage you to consider the request and see if it would work within your business context. You can decline a request for a flexible work arrangement for genuine business reasons. But that refusal may leave your employee feeling deflated, disengaged and asking themselves, ‘why bother?’. Making a practical attempt to cater for your employees’ needs goes a long way in reinforcing work-life balance.

Working from home

You might be able to accommodate back-office employees with working from home. Again, you can decline a request to work from home for genuine business reasons. Generally, the types of roles which can be performed from home don’t have a high level of face-to-face interaction with customers or team members and can be effectively performed from different locations.

When accepting a request to work from home it is important to know your responsibilities. We encourage you to put an agreement in place that outlines:

  • the arrangement that will apply (how often the employee will work remotely, duration of the arrangement, hours of work)
  • the technology and other equipment provided by you as the employer
  • how to ensure health, safety, wellbeing and security while working remotely
  • work expenses and what is reimbursable.

We recommend including a 3-month trial period for any arrangement to ensure it is working for both parties. If after the review period things change, or if you consider that the arrangement is negatively impacting the employee’s work, you may need to review the arrangement. It may be necessary to change the agreement and revert to working from the office.

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Some important things to consider when working from home

Employers may provide employees with technology to assist them to work remotely. This may include a laptop, phone or other equipment relevant to the role.

When an employee is making a request for flexible work, it is the employee’s responsibility to think about the technology and equipment they may need and to list their requirements clearly in their application. 

It may be the case that the new arrangement creates additional costs for the employer, in which case the decision to invest in this equipment is at the employer’s discretion.

To assist with reasonable set up costs, an employee may be entitled to a one-off set up allowance.  This arrangement will be at the employer’s discretion and as such is not guaranteed.

The cost of general utilities such as electricity, gas, water and smoke detectors are generally the responsibility of the employee.

Work calls made by the employee that are charged, for example toll or cell phone, made on the days that an employee works from home are generally reimbursed by the employer, with evidence of phone account.

No matter when or where an employee works, ensuring their health and safety is a shared responsibility between the employer and the employee. When working remotely, the employee is responsible for organising a work area that is appropriately set up to ensure that they can work safely. To ensure that this is the case, an employer may request an employee to provide photos of their work location. You may also request a health and safety assessment of the workstation.

All policies that apply to employees who are working in the office also apply when employees are working remotely. It is the employee’s responsibility to keep all work information secure, especially customer records and any other sensitive material. It’s also important that reasonable care is taken of company information and equipment.

When working remotely, the employee should ensure that they:

  • comply with organisational policies and procedures
  • only work from a location that is safe and suitable for working remotely
  • comply with all health and safety requirements
  • do not hold meetings with customers or other employees at their home
  • take reasonable steps to keep the organisation’s technology, equipment and information safe and in working order.

Retail NZ is a firm believer in investing in people, as employees are the essence of a successful business. For pragmatic solutions to flexible working and employee benefits, feel free to contact our Advice Service on 0800 472 472 (1800 128 086 from Australia) or email [email protected].


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