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Labour’s Landslide Victory = A Changing Employment Environment

Start now to think through the employment changes and challenges that will certainly confront you in the coming months.

The election was an historic one – Labour won 49% of the vote with a slam-dunk victory. This means Labour can choose to govern alone – the first time this has happened since New Zealand introduced a mixed member proportional (MMP) electoral system in 1993.

There are no doubt going to be many workplace challenges ahead – not least being able to afford the terms and conditions enhancements, as well as the ability to work constructively with Unions because it is a certainty that Unions will increasingly come to the fore in the next little while.

What does this mean for you? And what does it mean for workplace relations?

The Labour Party’s Workplace Relations and Safety policy is based on a principle that businesses and the economy will be boosted by supporting workers and valuing their contribution.

Specifically, Labour’s Workplace Relations policy commits to:

  • Increasing SICK LEAVE – from 5 days to 10 days; Labour plans to do this within the first 100 days.
  • Increasing WAGES and continuing to improve PAY EQUITY –the minimum wage will increase from $18.90 to $20 in 2021 and legislation will be introduced around pay transparency.
  • Legislate and implement FAIR PAY AGREEMENTS- fair pay agreements are industry-wide agreements set by Unions and employers that establish minimum terms and conditions for workers.
  • Strengthen key EMPLOYMENT LEGISLATION – changes to the HOLIDAYS ACT are planned to simplify leave calculations, and to allow sick leave and annual leave to be taken as it is accrued.
  • A MATARIKI PUBLIC HOLIDAY will also be introduced from 2022.
  • PROTECT VULNERABLE WORKERS – increasing protections for dependent contractors (dependent contractors are workers who are under the control of an employer but who do not receive the legal protections that are currently provided to regular employees); and, raising the age for workers to be allowed to perform hazardous work (from 15 to 16 years).

If you’re a business owner, it is important to start getting prepared now for these workplace changes.

  • Think through the quality of the relationships that you have with your employees. The closer you are to them the better. The more engaged they are with you and the organisation the better.
  • Consider what changes need to be made to your employment documents and processes (e.g. employee handbooks and employment agreements) to implement the changes to sick leave, the minimum wage, and the new public holiday. Think about the cost implications of these and start to factor this into your future wage budget.
  • The implementation of fair pay agreements may mean an increase in Union presence in your operating environment. Consider how to work constructively with Unions. Get prepared for this by learning about your industry’s Union now, ensure you have a good understanding of the number of Union members in your business, and gain a good understanding of what Fair Pay Agreements actually are.

There are many workplace changes and challenges on the horizon for businesses. The impact on your organisation, however, can be minimised by planning ahead, bring prepared, and putting in place actions now that will make for a smooth transition when these changes take effect.