Employment law & NZ govt changes

NZ’s employment law environment is poised for change so employers need to be ready for change too!

It's been confirmed that NZ's minimum wage for adults will increase from $15.75 to $16.50 in April 2018, and within four years it will be $20, but what other changes might be in the pipeline? Guidance can be taken from the policies proposed by each of the coalition parties leading up to the election, which are outlined below.

The Labour Party’s campaign manifesto set out that in the first 100 days it would:

  • Replace the 90-day trial period with a new trial period system
  • Increase the minimum wage to $16.50 an hour and base future increases on the real cost of living for people on low incomes
  • Pay all workers in the core public sector services at least the 'Living Wage'
  • Extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks
  • Restore reinstatement as the primary remedy for employees who have been unjustifiably dismissed
  • Reform collective bargaining in NZ.

The Labour Party’s campaign manifesto also proposed that within the first 12 months it would:

  • Begin consultation on improving minimum redundancy protections for workers affected by restructure
  • Consider options for ensuring that people who work over 40 hours a week receive adequate remuneration
  • Introduce statutory support and legal rights for ‘dependent contractors’
  • Increase the number of, and resourcing for, Labour Inspectors
  • Introduce Fair Pay Agreements that set 'fair and basic' employment conditions across an industry
  • Consider measures that improve job security for people in less stable forms of employment (e.g. labour hire, casual, seasonal, contracted or sub-contracted workers).

The Green Party proposed to:

  • Implement annual adjustments in the minimum wage to ensure that it equates to no less than 66% of the average wage
  • Increase protection for casual, seasonal, fixed term, temporary and event-based workers
  • Introduce statutory protections for independent and dependent contractors
  • Establish a minimum statutory entitlement to redundancy compensation
  • Establish a task force to consider economic and social effects of a 35-hour working week
  • Extend entitlements to paid sick leave and bereavement leave, and establishing a separate domestic leave entitlement.

The New Zealand First Party proposed to:

  • Increase the minimum wage to $20 per hour
  • Review the practice of ‘short-term’ employment contracts
  • Ensure that hiring New Zealanders is priority
  • Ensure enough workers are being trained in the area of aged care to cope with NZ’s ageing population.

We'll probably see a combination or variation of these proposals implemented in the coming months/ years. Employers will need to be aware of how the changes affect their business, and be ready to make required changes.

Keep an eye out on HR associate's blog to hear more about upcoming changes, and if you have any questions or concerns about these changes, don't hesitate to get in touch.