What is on the governement agenda?

Proposed changes to employment legislation

There are currently a number of Bills (proposed new laws) that have employment implications that are at the reading or select committee stage in Parliament.   We will be keeping an eye on these Bills as they progress and we’ll keep you up to date about any changes that you may need to consider as an employer and for your business.

These bills include: 

Protection for Victims of Domestic Violence

This Bill is about supporting victims of domestic violence to stay in paid employment.  Included in the submissions are proposals to allow victims of domestic violence to request a variation to their working arrangements and to apply for 10 days paid leave to deal with the effects of being a victim. 

This Bill has passed the first reading with a report back to the Select Committee due in early September.  There will be a number of requirements, and if passed as proposed the Holidays Act, the Employment Relations Act, the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Human Rights Act will all need to be amended.

The Employment Relations (Restoring Kiwis’ Right to A Break at Work) Amendment

In 2015 the requirements for rest and meal breaks were changed to provide greater flexibility to businesses for providing staff with both paid and unpaid breaks.  These changes were particularly helpful for businesses that could legitimately compensate lone workers who couldn’t take breaks away from their work.

This new Bill proposes to revoke that break flexibility introduced in 2015.  It is early days but we will be watching this one closely and will provide updates as it progresses. If this Bill is passed in to law, current employment agreements with break flexibility clauses will need to be carefully reviewed and probably amended or varied.

Allowing Higher Earners to Contract Out of Personal Grievance Provisions

This Bill is a bit more straight forward if passed. This Bill would allow employers to ask employees with an annual salary of greater than $150,000 to contract out of the personal grievance provisions in the Employment Relations Act. It will have specific and very limited application based on the salary threshold.

Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act 2017

This Act has been widely covered by the media and the Act received royal assent on 14th June 2017. This Act  applies to the pay settlement and new wages rates for 55,000 care and support workers in the aged and disability services.  This legislation will see wage increases for that specific sector introduced over 5 years.  The sector is now working with funders to implement these new requirements.  It is expected that there will be wider ramifications for the business community in the wake of tightening budgets for this sector.

Unions are now pursuing a pay equity claim in the Employment Relations Authority on behalf of some education and mental health sector employees in response to this Act.

Where to from here?

We will provide further updates as information is available.  If you would like more information please contact a member of the GrowHR team on 06 8785454.