Five workplace changes coming into effect

There are five changes to workplace laws that come into effect from either tomorrow, 1 April, or from 6 May.

 1. Minimum wage increase

The minimum wage will increase to $17.70 per hour.

This follows an increase last year from $15.75 to $16.50, and is part of a Government plan to bump the rates up as per the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement to $20 per hour which is planned to take effect 1 April 2021.

The Starting-out and Training rates are fixed at 80% of the Minimum Wage so will increase to $14.16.

There are some exceptions (employees under 16 and others) – see Current minimum wage rates

2. Reinstatement of set meal and rest breaks

Rest and meal break rules will be introduced from 6 May 2019. There is a return to more regulation about the timing, frequency and duration of breaks. “Employers and employees will need to mutually agree when breaks are to be taken. This agreement could be outlined in the employment contract, in a roster or in another system.”

“If there is no agreement set out, the law will require the breaks to be in the middle of the work period, so long as it’s reasonable and practicable to do so. Employers must pay for minimum rest breaks but don’t have to pay for minimum meal breaks.”

It’s also important to remember an employee must be given their entitled breaks; “Breaks cannot be exchanged for extra pay or time in lieu.”

 3. Limiting of 90-day trials to businesses with fewer than 20 employees

From 6 May 2019, 90-day trial periods will be restricted to businesses with fewer than 20 employees. “If you want to use a 90 day trial period for a new employee, it remains crucial that, before starting work for you, the employee has signed an employment agreement containing such a clause.”

Larger businesses with 20 or more employees will no longer be able to use 90 day trial periods.  However, they may continue to use probationary periods to assess an employee’s skills against the role’s responsibilities.

 4. Leave entitlements and protections for victims of domestic violence

From 1 April 2019, victims affected by domestic violence will have the right to request a short-term (up to two months) variation of their working arrangements. This could include variation to days and hours of work, place of work, and duties. Requests can only be refused by an employer on certain grounds.

“If you receive a request in writing, you must respond to it within ten working days.  If you wish to request proof of the issue (such as a medical certificate, court order or police report), you must ask for this within three working days of receiving the request.”

An employee who has been working for you for more than six months will also be entitled to ten paid days leave to deal with effects of domestic violence on themselves or a child. “If you are in any doubt about how to respond to an employee, please seek appropriate workplace specialist advice without delay.”

 5. Strengthened collective bargaining and union rights

The 30-day rule will come back from 6 May 2019. This means that for the first 30 days, new employees must be employed under terms consistent with the collective agreement. The employer and employee may however agree more favourable terms than the collective.

Union representatives also have the right to enter workplaces without consent, provided the employees are covered under, or bargaining towards, a collective agreement.

“Union representatives can only enter your workplace for certain purposes, must be respectful of normal operating hours, and follow health, safety and security procedures. Where no collective agreement or bargaining exists, union representatives still need to seek consent before entering your workplace.”

Source: Ashlea Maley, Senior Workplace Consultant at Employsure

Leave a comment

15 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  31st March 2019

    Obviously if you can automate you won’t employ as a small business to avoid mind-blowing legal and regulatory landmines.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  31st March 2019

      A minimum wage is ‘mind blowing ..regulatory landmines’?

      Another new feature which is long overdue is IRD moving to have all employers pay IRD the taxes as they are deducted. Some small business have been using those deductions as working capital and of course too many have IRD as huge creditor when they go bust.
      Payday filing its called
      https://www.ird.govt.nz/payroll-employers/returns-payments/payday-filing/payday-filing.html

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  31st March 2019

        Expect to see employing family members who won’t rock all the regulatory boats become the new norm for small businesses and youth unemployment for others increase.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  31st March 2019

          Paying foldies, you mean ?

          Who wouldn’t ?

          There are going to be some sinking lids, I think. Grossly oversimplified example; let’s make the wage $100 a week and a company whose wages bill can be $1000 a week, so they have 10 staff. The wages go up to $125 a week, which means trouble for the company…so when someone leaves, they’re not replaced. There are now 8 workers (doing the work of 10)

          Reply
        • Blazer

           /  31st March 2019

          can you fit up a ..chimney..Al?

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  31st March 2019

            No building consent for chimneys, B. Compulsory heat pumps. Get with the program, Lefties.

            Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  31st March 2019

    potential for abuse here…

    ‘An employee who has been working for you for more than six months will also be entitled to ten paid days leave to deal with effects of domestic violence on themselves or a child. “If you are in any doubt about how to respond to an employee, please seek appropriate workplace specialist advice without delay.”

    be interesting to see the exact criteria…

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  31st March 2019

      Not only abuse (although the need for evidence should cover that, one would hope; no fortnight’s holiday on someone’s say-so) but a bloody nuisance as the entire workforce has to be rearranged. A local fruit and veg shop is mainly run by Indian family members, but they have a few other staff members. What would they do ? What would any business like them do ? They can’t send the staff away, there’s nowhere to send them, and they can’t give them different hours for obvious reasons.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  31st March 2019

        What currently happens if some one has an accident somewhere and is off work for 2 weeks….. hello thats what running a business is all about ,managing the the decisions.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  31st March 2019

          Bureaucracy is all about second guessing other people’s decisions from a position of absolute security. And wearing a suit.

          Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  31st March 2019

          You seem to feel obliged to disagree and find fault with everything I say. Too tiresome. I hope that you outgrow it.

          Reply
  3. Sunny

     /  31st March 2019

    Within Council’s they get around it by outsourcing to volunteer societies. EG they outsource things like environmental responsibilities and leasing out communitiy halls to unpaid volunteer groups who get to keep the small amount of funds generated by the hall which they spend maintaining the buildings, or a bit of cash to an environment group for morning teas and plants. Then council doesn’t have to pay staff and they aren’t responsible for any of the health and safety and compliance responsibilities because volunteer associations are exempt from those regulations.

    Reply
  4. Reply
    • Corky

       /  31st March 2019

      No, many can’t.

      Reply
    • David

       /  31st March 2019

      We have a contractor pushing an increase because of the minimum wage rise, we will wear it but cutback where we can. It’s an opportunity cost really…so if the recipient is a parent they will receive less wff so a saving for the taxpayer.

      Reply

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