Employment Law Changes
This year we are expecting to see a significant shift in the employment legislation landscape, and last week’s announcement signals the start of these changes.
The following changes were confirmed last week:
- Trial periods will be restricted to small business (up to 19 employees) only. All employers will be able to use probationary periods, but unlike the 90-day trial, these do not allow unjustified dismissal
- Guaranteed rest and meal breaks
- A number of changes relating to collective bargaining, including removing the ability of employers to opt out of multi-employer collective agreements.
The bill is expected to have its first reading before February 3rd. In addition, we have the following changes to paid parental leave and minimum wage coming up:
- The minimum wage will rise to $16.50 per hour ($0.75 increase) from 1st April, with increases set to continue to a targeted $20 per hour by April 2021.
- Paid parental leave will extend from 18 to 22 weeks from 1st July and to 26 weeks from 1st July 2020
Other changes being indicated include:
- An increase in minimum redundancy protection for employees affected by restructuring. This could go as far as a statutory entitlement for redundancy pay of at least four weeks for the first year of service and two weeks for each subsequent year of service, up to a maximum of 20 years
- Contractors who work under the ‘control’ of an employer, but are not employees are likely to see their rights extended for more statutory protection
- Legislation may be introduced to make it easier for women to bring claims if they consider they are not being paid equally. In particular, changes are likely to give women in female-dominated industries better access to collective bargaining
- Reinstatement is likely to be re-introduced (it was removed in 2011) as the primary remedy for unjustifiable dismissal claims.
- Minimum employment standards being extended to apply to all employees working in New Zealand, including foreign employees working for foreign companies. This will impact employers with a globally mobile workforce.
It’s a case of ‘watch this space’ for the possible changes outlined above, followed by looking to see how changes will impact employers and industries when implemented. We’ll keep you informed via this blog, or follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook for regular updates. If unsure of anything, contact us.