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Employment Law – What to look out for in 2015

Home Insights Employment Law – What to look out for in 2015

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Published on: February 11, 2015

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2015 is going to be an interesting year in this area. Below we have compiled our list of the significant changes you can expect in the first part of 2015.

6 March 2015 – Employment Relations Act amendments

A number of amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 will take effect on 6 March. Key points to note include:

  • parties to bargaining will no longer be required to conclude a collective agreement;
  • a party to collective bargaining may apply to the Employment Relations Authority for a determination that bargaining has concluded (provided the party has not breached the duty of good faith);
  • the “30 day rule” is removed (which currently requires employers to offer new employees the same terms and conditions of employment as contained in the collective agreement that would apply if the employee was a member of a union);
  • all strikes must be notified in advance and a regime is introduced for deductions from the wages or salaries of employees who are engaged in a partial strike;
  • the introduction of greater flexibility with regard to rest and meal breaks; and
  • employers can elect to opt out of bargaining for a multi-employer collective agreement.

Further details can be obtained from our October 2014 update.

30 March 2015 – Next draft of the Health and Safety Reform Bill

The Select Committee report on the Health and Safety Reform Bill is due to be released on 30 March 2015. The Second Reading of the Bill is likely to occur at the same time.

After the Second Reading there is a Third Reading, at which stage the Bill is passed into law and will come into force (following Royal assent from the Governor-General). No firm indications yet as to when the Third Reading is expected or whether there will be a built-in transition period between Royal Assent and the Bill (however it might look) coming into force. Indications from Worksafe are that we can expect the new law to come into force at some stage in the “second half of 2015”.

1 April 2015 – Parental leave amendments

The following changes to the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 will come into force on 1 April 2015:

  • paid parental leave will increase from 14 weeks to 16 weeks; and
  • employees will be able to commence parental leave up to 10 weeks (currently 8 weeks) prior to the expected date of delivery (with a medical certificate or at an employer’s direction).

25 and 27 April 2015 – ANZAC day Mondayised

New Zealanders will first reap the benefits of the 2014 amendments to the Holidays Act which “Mondayise” Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day. ANZAC Day falls on a Saturday, but employees who would not normally work on a Saturday will observe the public holiday on Monday 27 April (in essence, Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day are now treated the same as Christmas Day for the purposes of public holidays). 

Are your template employment agreements compliant?

The start of the year is a great time to get things in order to ensure smooth sailing in the employment arena. Now is the perfect opportunity to review your template employment agreements and check they include the following mandatory requirements:

  • the names of the employee and employer;
  • a description of the work to be performed by the employee;
  • the employee’s place of work;
  • the employee’s hours of work;
  • the wages or salary payable to the employee;
  • an explanation of the employee’s entitlements around public holidays (payment of time and a half);
  • an employee protection provision; and
  • a plain English explanation of the services available for the resolution of employment relationship problems.

If you would like to discuss this, or any other aspect of employment law, please get in touch with a member of the team.

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This publication is intended only to provide a summary of the subject covered. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. No person should act in reliance on any statement contained in this publication without first obtaining specific professional advice.

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