As an employer you would be forgiven for feeling frustrated, jaded and bit lost by the constant state of change within NZ employment law, and fair enough too!
Under the previous government we saw significant changes to Health & Safety legislation and the Employment Relations Act. Now under our new coalition we have another big round coming, with even more on the way. Jason Ennor from MyHR provides a summary of some of the headline changes you need to be aware of:
Effective now, reinstatement is the primary remedy for successful unfair dismissal claims.
1st April Minimum Wage Rise.
The adult minimum wage will be $17.70 per hour.
Holiday pay and employer KiwiSaver must be on top of this amount.
Domestic Violence Leave – from 1st April 2019
All employees with 6 months or more continuous service will be able to take paid leave of up to 10 day per year for domestic violence.
Employees can also request flexible working arrangements due to domestic violence. The employer must consider the request and formally respond within 10 days.
Domestic violence may be physical, emotional or financial and it could have happened at any time in the employee’s life. Proof may be requested.
6th May Prescribed Breaks
Rest and meal breaks will be prescribed in law along the following lines:
- 1 x paid 10 mins for 2-4 hours work.
- Plus 1 x unpaid 30 mins for 4-6 hours work.
- Plus 1 additional paid 10 mins for 6-8 hours.
- Repeating after 8 hours.
If breaks are not agreed in advance with the employee, then the employee may take the breaks at times also prescribed by law and you may not be able to penalise them for doing so (essentially walking off the job).
No More 90-day Trial Periods
Any employer of 20 or more employees will no longer be able to use the 90-day trial period and receive the protections offered under that law.
Employers of 19 or less will be able to continue using 90-day trial periods.
These are some of the headline changes that will affect most employers. Other changes include; strengthening of union rights and increased protections for vulnerable workers, these will cover certain sectors of NZ business.
Some other changes in the pipeline to keep an eye on include; equal pay, fair pay agreements and triangular employment relationships.
HR people talk about all the risks associated with not meeting the changing laws, then business carries on, and for many, the changes mean very little. For the most part, humans just get on with other humans and work together, without needing to consult law books at work every day.
Nevertheless, there are consequences for failing to keep your organisation up-to-date and I always recommend keeping on top of the change employment law landscape, as more-and-more employers are getting caught out.
For support, coaching and advice on people management and employment relations call the free RBA HR Advice Line 📞0800 694 769