PAID PARENTAL LEAVE


Paid parental leave will increase from 18 to 22 weeks on 1 July 2018, , with a further increase to 26 weeks from 1 July 2020.

Parental Leave payments will continue to be made by the Government, not the employer. An employer’s obligations to hold positions open for the duration of parental leave remain unchanged.

INCREASED MINIMUM WAGE


On 1 April 2018, the minimum wage will increase to $16.50 an hour, rising to $20 by April 2021.

This represents a 27% increase over the next 4 years and by 2020, a fulltime employee on minimum wage, will receive an annual salary of $41,600.

90 DAY TRIAL


Where an employer wishes to terminate an employee under the 90-day trial period, the employer will have to provide reasoning behind the decision to terminate.

Employees will be entitled to challenge this decision, and a new referee service will be established to deal solely with these claims.

CONTINUED


The Government has advised that disputes will be heard within 3 weeks of being raised, how workable this is, is not yet known. Referees will make a binding decision as to outcomes and/or penalties which cannot be appealed.

While employers and employees will be entitled to representation throughout the process, lawyers will be excluded.


REST & MEAL BREAKS


Since 2015 there has been no prescription around timing and duration for employee rest and meal breaks.

It has been confirmed that a regulated rest and meal break schedule will be restored. This legislation will dictate the minimum number of, and timing for breaks depending on how many hours an employee works.

What is expected is that the rest and meal break schedule will be similar, if not the same, as those introduced in 2008:

  • One 10-minute rest break if the employee has worked between two and four hours
  • One 10-minute rest break and one 30-minute meal break if the employee has worked between four and six hours
  • Two 10-minute rest breaks and one 30-minute meal break if the employee has worked between six and eight hours.
    Foreign Workers
    It is proposed that New Zealand employment law will apply to all foreign workers undertaking work in New Zealand for foreign employers.
    From the information available so far, it appears as though foreign workers will require New Zealand employment agreements and must receive New Zealand minimum entitlements.
    It is not clear how this will work, as from the information available it would appear that even someone working in New Zealand for a month (or even 1 week), out of an Australian office, would be subject to New Zealand employment law and would require a New Zealand Employment Agreement.
    Collective Bargaining
  • Changes to collective bargaining processes include:
    • restoring a unions’ ability to initiate collective bargaining in advance of employers
    • re-introduction of the duty to conclude a collective agreement
    • allowing contractors to bargain collectively and join unions
    • restoring the requirement for new workers to be employed on the same terms and conditions as provided by any existing collective agreement for the first 30 days
      removing the ability for employers to deduct pay from workers taking partial strike action

LONG TERM CHANGES TO FAIR PAY AGREEMENTS


Labour has proposed to introduce Fair Pay Agreements (FPA) which will dictate remuneration and minimum employment standards within an industry.

FPAs will be negotiated by businesses within an industry and the Unions representing workers within that industry. The agreement reached will apply to all employees within the industry.

REDUNDANCY COMPENSATION


The Government has proposed to introduce minimum redundancy protection for employees affected by restructuring. It has been indicated that compensation could be four weeks for the first year of service and an additional 2 weeks for each subsequent year, capped at 20 years of service.

For example:
5 years of service = 12 weeks redundancy pay

20 years of service = 42 weeks of redundancy pay

It is important to note that redundancy pay is in addition to final payment of wages and any outstanding holiday pay. The details around exact figures have not been released and this information is based on previous Labour Party policy and commentary from industry sources.

5 years of service = $15,000 in redundancy pay 20 years of service = $52,500 in redundancy pay

DEPENDENT CONTRACTORS


The Labour Government has been vocal about Independent Contractors who currently work under the control of an employer but do not receive the same minimum entitlements as employees.

While specific details are still to be confirmed, it is likely to be based on the current UK model  and a middle ground between ‘Employee’ and ‘Independent Contractor’ will be created. Those who fall into this middle category of ‘Dependent Contractors’ will receive some of the same rights and entitlements as employees which may include annual leave and sick leave.