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Employment Law Update

Employment Law Update

This past year has seen very little action from the Government with respect to Employment Law. A few proposed amendments to existing Acts were introduced to Parliament, ones of particular interest to us are
1. Employment Relations Amendment Bill;
2. Equal Pay Amendment Bill;
3. Holidays Amendment Bill;
4. Employee Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Bill; and
5. Employment Relations (Allowing Higher Earners to Contract out of Personal Grievance Provisions) Amendment Bill.

1. The Employment Relations Amendment Bill
Five core proposed amendments. They are;
a. Reinstating set rest and meal breaks, with limited exemptions;
b. Restoring reinstatement as the primary remedy in unjustified dismissal disputes;
c. Limiting the 90 Day Trial period to employers with fewer than 20 employees;
d. Further protections for employees in the “vulnerable industries”; and
e. Number of changes to strengthen the collective bargaining framework and union rights in the workplace.
This Bill has just passed its third reading on the 5th of Dec 2108. Some minor amendments were made around union access to workplace, costs for unions to advertise to new employees lie with them, and Employers will be able to opt out of bargaining for a Multi-Employer Collective Agreement, if they have reasonable grounds. We are expecting new laws to come into effect early May 2019

2. The Equal Pay Amendment Bill
Bill will allow employees to make a pay equity claim within New Zealand’s existing bargaining framework, making court action a last resort. Was only introduced to Parliament on 19 September 2018 and underwent the first reading on 16 October 2018. The Bill is currently with the Education and Workforce Committee and we are expecting a report from them in April 2019.

3. The Holidays Amendment Bill
This Bill would make it clear that the unplanned death of a foetus (miscarriage) constitutes grounds for bereavement leave for the mother and partner or spouse of the unborn baby of at least three days. This Bill is still in the first reading as it was introduced on 9 August 2018.

4. The Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Bill
Bill was introduced to ensure that employees employed by one employer, but that works under the control and direction of another business or organisation, are not deprived of the right to coverage of a collective agreement and to ensure that such employees are not subject to a detriment in their right to allege a personal grievance. This Bill had its first reading on 21 March 2018 and is currently with the Select Committee.

5. The Employment Relations (Allowing Higher Earners to Contract out of Personal Grievance Provisions) Amendment Bill
Amendment Bill amends the Employment Relations Act 2000 to allow employees with an annual gross salary over $150,000.00 to contract out of the personal grievance provision. Made it all the way to the second reading where it either failed or was withdrawn.

In addition to the above remember we have the Green's domestic violence legislation taking effect from April next year. (Read more here)

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