Employment changes from 1st April 2017

This week has seen the minimum wage increases and final changes to the minimum employment standards come into effect. 

The minimum wage rates (exclusive of KiwiSaver and holiday pay) effective 1st April, 2017 are:

  • $15.75 per hour for adult minimum wage, an increase of 50c per hour and
  • $12.60 per hour for starting-out workers and trainees, an increase of 40c per hour.

The minimum employment standards were introduced in 2016 for any new staff, and apply from 1st April 2017 to all staff.  As a reminder, the key changes were around hours of work, cancellation of shifts, secondary employment and deductions.

Hours of work is the area that appears to be causing the most concern.  The requirements that started coming into force in 2016 is that where a set amount of hours of work have been agreed these must clearly stated in the employment agreement.  This includes any agreement around the number of hours, start and finish times and the specific days the employee will work.

Employers can offer staff additional or overtime hours but cannot require staff to work those unless they have reasonably compensated that employee for their availability and this is a provision of the employment agreement.  In practice, this means staff can turn down, or refuse extra hours.

What this means for employers:

  • If your current employment agreement has clauses that are not compliant with the changes, those clauses are no longer enforceable.
  • If you have working practices that are no longer complaint, these need to be updated so they are compliant and to reduce the risks of personal grievance claims and/or Labour Inspector penalties.

If you have not done so it is recommended that you have your employment agreement templates updated before you next recruit to ensure you are compliant with all changes from 2016 including health and safety.  You may also wish to give consideration to issuing new agreements or variations to your current staff.

Where you have employee handbooks and/or policies relating to any of the areas of change these should also be reviewed and updated where necessary.

Do contact a member of the Grow HR team on 06 878 5454 or team@growhr.co.nz if you would like to know more about how these changes could affect your business or if you would like your employment agreements and procedures reviewing and updating.