Employment Legislation Changes – What you need to know and be ready for


It seems such a long time ago that we saw a change in government in New Zealand and discussions began about their position on various Employment legislation highlighted for a review as part of their first year plan.

As we pass the halfway mark of 2018, the changes identified are fast approaching. When they become law, we will see some fundamental impact on Employment Law and on employers across the country.

The key pieces of legislation the Government is aggressively progressing with over the next 5 months include:

1. The Employment Relations Amendment Bill 2018
2. Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Bill
3. Domestic Violence – Victims Protection Bill
4. Fair Pay Agreements
5. Parental Leave
6. Holidays Act Review
7. Privacy Bill
8. Pay Equity

While we recognise there is a lot to digest, based on advice from Employment Lawyers Simpson Grierson, we have highlighted the key pieces of information relating to each legislation that all employers need to be aware of.

Not all employment legislation changes will be relevant to you, therefore we are here to provide 1-1 professional advice and support to ensure your employment agreements, practices and policies are compliant ahead of the changes coming into effect.

1. Employment Relations Amendment Bill 2018

The Employment Relations Amendment Bill 2018 includes the reinstatement of the requirement to provide employees with prescribed rest and meal breaks, restricting 90 day trial periods to employers with less than 20 employees and restoring reinstatement as the primary remedy.

Other changes to strengthen collective bargaining and union rights in the workplace will also be addressed. For employers where this is relevant, this will become a focus from September onwards.

2. Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Bill

The Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Bill is currently before the Select Committee and if it is passed, is likely to come into effect this year. The focus of this Bill seeks to give labour-hire workers and those in similar situations a number of the same workplace rights as full time employees.

3. Victims Protection Bill

On 1 April 2019, the Victims Protection Bill will come into force. It will provide 10 days of leave a year to victims of domestic violence or people caring for affected children and the right to request a flexible working arrangement.

4. Fair Pay Agreements

Fair Pay Agreements will focus on establishing a sector-level bargaining system allowing unions and employers to develop ‘Fair Pay Agreements’ that set minimum terms and conditions for workers. A priority for the government with potential implementation early 2019.

5. Paid Parental Leave

Paid Parental Leave has now increased from 18 – 22 weeks as of 1 July 2018 with a further increase to 6 weeks due 1 July 2020.

6. Holidays Act

A full review of the Holidays Act including the creation of a Holidays Act Working Group has been established with a mandate to carry out a full review of the provisions of, and payment for, holiday and leave entitlements.

7. Privacy Bill

The revised Privacy Bill due to replace the 25 year old Privacy Act will see our privacy laws aligned with international developments and reforms. Key changes include new ways to enforce information privacy principles and providing the Privacy Commission with greater powers to enact and monitor. If passed, this Act will come into place 1 July 2019.

8. Pay Equity

Pay Equity remains a very hot topic for the current government with the reconvening of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles in January of this year.

This group is tasked with providing further recommendations relating to the former Bill withdrawn from Parliament due to concerns raised by key government stakeholders. These recommendations could see a Bill introduced later this year with legislation likely to come into effect soon after.

Written by Amanda Parish, Intepeople HR & Talent Partner

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