Employment Law Update – August 2019

In April/May 2019, there were many legislative changes in employment, yet some people still appear to be oblivious to these changes.  The main changes have been set out below for your reference.

  1. Domestic Violence Leave

In April 2019, a completely new type of leave was introduced.  Employers must now be aware of sensitivities in dealing with domestic violence for workers even where the incidents were suffered outside of work.  Employers have new obligations to provide a sensitive process and up to 10 days paid leave for workers affected by domestic violence.  Flexible hours may be another resolution and the need to deal with such matters sensitively and confidentially will mean employers will need to have proper procedures in place to deal with this before such incidents arise.

  • ACC Work Levies

As of April 2019, employers and self-employed people will be paying on average 6.9% less ACC levies.  No action is required, and many would have already noticed these changes.

  • Minimum Wage Increase

As of 1 April 2019, minimum wages increased to $17.70 an hour.  Consequently, the Starting-out and Training Minimum Wage rates increased from $13.20 to $14.16 per hour to equate to 80% of the minimum wage for adults.

  • Payday Filing

As of 1 April 2019, all employers are now required to comply with mandatory payday filing requirements every payday instead of simply filing an employer monthly schedule. 

  • 90 day Trials

As of May 2019, trial periods have become a thing of the past with only “small businesses” under 20 employees being able to implement trial periods which were often the golden way to test employee’s capabilities without recourse to personal grievance claims.  Employers will still be able to implement probation periods, but good faith and due process requirements apply, and the employee will have rights to bring a personal grievance claim for any unjustified dismissals under probation periods

  • Meal and Rest Breaks

This provision has been “in and out” for a while now.  In November 2014, the National Government removed the right to mandatory tea breaks explaining this as a means of providing flexibility to employers rather than stripping rights away.  In the National legislative change in, employers were to give employees a reasonable chance to “rest, refreshment, and atten[d] to personal matters” and are “are appropriate for the duration of the employee’s work period.” Then in May 2019, under the Labour government, mandatory breaks were reinstated.  This means that an employee is now required to be given set rest and meal breaks dependant on the hours worked aimed at assisting employees to work more safely and productively.  Employers must pay for minimum rest breaks, but do not have to pay for meal breaks.

  • Union Powers and Collective Bargaining

As one can expect under Labour policies, there have been many changes strengthening unions and collective bargaining.  For instance, union representatives can now enter workplaces without employer consent, employers can not make deductions for partial strikes, and the “30-day rule” was reinstated in 6 May 2019 meaning that any new employees must be given terms and conditions consistent with the collective agreement for the first 30 days and can subsequently enter into more favour terms.

If you wish to obtain legal advice in employment, please feel free to contact Tina Hwang or Max Shin.