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Legal considerations for clubs

29 June 2017

Legal considerations for clubs

The words 'legal requirements' need not be daunting. The main legal issues a club should consider relate to privacy and the Privacy Act 1993, accident and injury compensation (ACC), liquor licensing, employment and health and safety.

Privacy

Any group, club, employer or individual that collects private information about people is obliged to meet the rules set out in the Privacy Act 1993. Regardless of the structure of your club (whether an incorporated society or not), it will have club members and you will collect information about them – even if it’s just a list of names with addresses and phone numbers. That means the club must also have a privacy officer – someone who thinks about how to comply with the Privacy Act. There’s more information on how to comply from the Privacy Commissioner’s Office.

Important things to know about the Privacy Act

  • The personal information collected must be necessary for what you are doing, for example, it may be important for a sports team to know about a member’s past injuries but unnecessary to know about a member’s partner or children.
  • The information collected can only be used for the reason you have collected it, for example, injury information could be used to decide what level a player will play at but should not be given to someone who sells products to people with that particular injury.
  • Anyone has the right to look at the information you have collected about them and they can ask you to correct it if wrong.
  • Private information needs to be kept private.
  • The form used to collect information (probably a membership application form) should include a paragraph that explains why information is being collected (for example for the purposes of forming and managing a club) and who will have access to it (such as the committee and officers of the club or specified employees).

ACC

Don't be frightened of the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), which is New Zealand’s statutory insurer for any injuries caused by accident. The legal requirements for clubs and societies is much simpler than in many countries because of the comprehensive accident compensation cover supplied to everyone through ACC.

Essentially, ACC will cover all accidental injuries for medical care, loss of wages (up to 80% per week but not the first week), and compensation for loss of limbs or function (in some circumstances). If any of your members or volunteers are injured while participating in club activities, their medical expenses are covered. As their injury did not happen at work they will not get their first week's wages, but will receive up to 80% of their wages after the first week if they cannot work because of the injury.

Liquor licensing

Many clubs and societies choose to have clubrooms where they serve liquor (alcohol). This may not happen with a brand new club or association. But if your club gets to the point where it wants its own premises with a licensed bar, you may need to talk to a lawyer to assist with buying/leasing property and getting a full liquor licence (Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC)).

You cannot sell liquor without a liquor licence and this can be obtained from your local council. If you are having a one-off event, you can apply for a special licence for the event. But you will need a full licence if you want to sell alcohol regularly from your premises. The requirements are slightly different with each local government authority, so contact your local council to find out.

Employment

If the club employs club members it will need to:

  • pay the minimum wage
  • look after its employees
  • know about PAYE and ACC levies
  • ensure a safe working environment.

For more information about employing staff please see the IRD website. The Department of Labour website contains useful information for employers, including draft employment contracts and legal obligations.

Health and safety

It’s important to note that the club is not liable for personal injury from accidents for volunteers and members participating in its activities. However, the club could be fined under the Health and Safety Act if it is at fault for not providing a safe working environment.

The club must follow the rules for employers set out in the Health and Safety Act and pay the appropriate ACC levies.

See our Health and safety for clubs page.

More information

  • Keeping it legal provides good information about the Privacy Act.
  • CommunityNet Aotearoa is an internet resource for New Zealand communities with an excellent section on employing staff.

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