PositivePeople March 7, 2016 No Comments

Are you ready for the Employment Standards Legislation?

1 April will see the introduction of important changes to New Zealand’s employment legislation. With the date just around the corner, it’s time to think about what this means to your business, and what changes you need to put in place to ensure you are legally compliant.

What you need to know – the key changes:

Minimum wage – The minimum wage will increase by 50c to $15.25 on 1 April. If you have any team members who are on, or near, the current minimum wage then you will need to ensure you make any increase required on or before 1 April.

Maternity leave – From 1 April the period of paid parental leave will be increasing from 16 weeks to 18 weeks, allowing for parents to spend more time with their new bundle of joy, while still being able to pay the bills. The criteria for parental leave stays the same, as do the other parts of this legislation. If you have anyone who is due to take parental leave after 1 April it would be worth checking the length of time they have applied for to see if it should be extended or changed.

Changes to zero hour agreements – In response to recent concerns about the prevalence of zero hour employment agreements the Act will be changed to provide greater protection to casual workers. This is a big one for those of you with casual employees, so it is important you check your employment agreements and current practices to see what changes, if any, you need to make.

In future:

  • 1. When a set number of hours are agreed upon by the employee and employer, these must be included in an employment agreement
  • 2. When employees are required to be available for work outside their set hours the employer must provide compensation for this
  • 3. If an employer sends an employee home part way through their shift or cancels a shift without reasonable notice they must provide the employee with compensation

The changes also specify that an employer may not put unreasonable restrictions on an employee regarding secondary employment or make unreasonable deductions from their wages. Tougher sanctions are introduced for employers who don’t comply with the legislation. Also, the requirement for record keeping is tightened and streamlined so it is consistent across all legislation and employers.

All of this adds up to the need to have a thorough review of your current employment practices, and to ensure you are complying.

For more information about the changes check the MBIE website at http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/employment-skills/legislation-reviews/employment-standards-legislation-bill/strengthening-enforcement-of-employment-standards, or contact us at Positive People to discuss further.