With a change of Government late last year, many of us waited in anticipation for how that change would affect us as employers and business owners. The new Labour Government indicated that change would be imminent for employment legislations with a focus on workplace relations. We now have some clarity as to what those key amendments will look like:
- Minimum wage will increase by 75c to $16.50 an hour on 1 April 2018. There will be increased focus on ensuring core public service workers are paid at least the living wage.
- Paid parental leave is already confirmed to increase from 18 to 22 weeks from 1 July 2018 . Increasing to 26 weeks from 1 July 2020.
PROPOSED CHANGES to the Employment Relations Act (to be confirmed once the Bill has been passed through Parliament). The proposed changes will effectively provide greater rights for employees!
- Restoring statutory rest and meal breaks
- Limiting 90 day trial period to small employers with fewer than 20 employees.
- Increasing protection for vulnerable workers such as cleaners and caterers when a business is transferred or restructured. Effectively giving vulnerable employees more time to decide whether to transfer to a new employer.
- Restoring reinstatement as the primary remedy for unfair dismissal. We will be interested to see how this is effectively applied as our experience indicates that in the majority of circumstances the employment relationship is usually beyond repair by the time it reaches unfair dismissal claim! Most employees prefer to seek compensation rather than reinstatement.
- Strengthening collective bargaining and union rights. A number of changes in this area which essentially revert to previous employment legislation which was amended by the National Government.
The public will have an opportunity to make submissions on the Bill so keep an eye out on updates or you can monitor the situation via www.parliament.nz.