July 19, 2018

July 19, 2018

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

July 18, 2018

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

July 17, 2018

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

July 16, 2018

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Labour's First 100 Days for Workplace Law

As the first 100 days of the Prime Minister Jacinta Arden led Labour government comes to a close this week, we take a look at the status of the government's proposed amendments to workplace and immigration policy to date.

Labour's priorities within its first 100 days in this space included a mix of new policies and undoing changes made by the National-led government over the past nine years.

Many of the changes were captured in the Employment Relations Amendment Bill (Bill), introduced to the New Zealand Parliament on 29 January 2018. The Bill is intended to amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 and its first reading is scheduled for February 2018. The purpose of the Bill is to implement Labour's commitments to restore key minimum standards and protections for employees and to strengthen collective bargaining and union rights in the workplace.

A key change for employers to note is that under the proposed amendments, unions would no longer require consent to enter a workplace and an employer cannot unreasonably deny access to a workplace.

What is New?

Policy Area Relevant Act/Bill Section Enforcement Date Additions / Changes
Increased minimum wage (Two-tiered approach)

Employment Relations Act 2000 (NZ)

Minimum Wage Act 1983 (NZ)

Holidays Act 2003 (NZ)

Wages Protection Act 1983(NZ)

TBC 1 April 2018 Increase from $15.75 to $16.50 and base future increases on inflation
TBC 1 April 2021 Increase from $16.50 to $20.00
Equal Pay legislation Equal Pay Act 1972 (NZ) TBC TBC Re-draft Equal Pay legislation to give female workers in female dominated workforces access to collective bargaining and court processes to settle industrial disputes with their employer
Statutory paid parental leave (Two-tiered approach) Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Act 2017(NZ)
(Date of assent: 4 December 2017)

ss 1A – 1B

s 9

s 26 (3)

1 July 2018 Duration of paid primary carer leave - 18 weeks to 22 weeks

ss 1A – 1B (Part 2)

s 9

s 26 (3)

1 July 2020 Duration of paid primary carer leave - 22 weeks to 26 weeks
Protecting foreign workers TBC TBC TBC Ensure NZ jurisdiction applies to foreign workers employed by foreign companies
Collective bargaining Employment Relations Act 2000 (NZ) ss 104, 106, 107, 119 6 months after the date of Royal assent Increase protection against discrimination based on union membership and tightening the rules on employers automatically passing on terms and conditions to non-union workers
s 18A 4 months after the date of Royal assent Union delegates entitled to reasonable paid time to represent employees during normal working hours to undertake union activities if the activities do not unreasonably disrupt the employers business or performance
s 59AA 1 day after the day of Royal assent Union may provide Employer with information about role and functions of union to pass on to new employees

s 31 (aa)

s 32(1)(ca)

s 33 (2)

4 months after the date of Royal assent Duty of good faith requires parties to conclude the collective agreement unless there is a genuine reason, based on reasonable grounds, not to do so

What Will Be Undone

Policy Area Relevant Act/Bill Section Enforcement Date Changes
90-day trials

Employment Relations Act 2000 (NZ)

ss 67A - 67B 4 months after the date of Royal assent

Labour Government has promised to remove the 90-day trial period (exemption for businesses with 19 or less employees) to ensure increased protection for employees

New trial periods people will be given reasons for dismissal and disputes will be heard within 3 weeks of being lodged

New fast, fair and simple process to be introduced

Reinstatement Employment Relations Act 2000 (NZ) ss 125 1 day after the day of Royal assent Labour Government promises to restore reinstatement as the primary remedy after a worker has been dismissed unfairly
Protecting vulnerable workers Employment Relations Act 2000 (NZ)

Part 6, 6A and 6D

ss 30-34

4 months after the date of Royal assent

Protections for vulnerable workers are already in force for those affected by restructuring; however additional groups may be added to the specified groups

The current exemption for businesses with 19 or less employees is removed pursuant to s 69 CA

New sections 69D – 69I no longer refer to exempt employers for small to medium enterprises  from the protections in Part 6A for specified categories of employees

Rest Breaks and Meal Breaks Employment Relations Act 2000 (NZ) Rest Breaks and Meal Breaks 4 months after the date of Royal assent Changes will remove the ability of employers to provide compensation instead of rest and meal breaks
Collective bargaining disputes Employment Relations Act 2000 (NZ) ss 20 - 25 1 day after the day of Royal assent

s 20A may be repealed, removing the requirement for a representative of a union to obtain consent before entering a workplace under s 21

s 21 – Provides that nothing in that section allows an employer to unreasonably deny a representative of a union access to a workplace

s 41 4 months after the date of Royal assent Restore unions' right to initiate collective bargaining in advance of employers
ss 95A – 95H 1 day after the day of Royal assent Remove the ability for employers to deduct pay from workers taking low level protest action during an industrial dispute
Collective bargaining in film and television Employment Relations Act 2000 (NZ) TBC TBC Remove the discrimination that prevents film and television workers bargaining collectively
Copyright 2018 K & L Gates

TRENDING LEGAL ANALYSIS


About this Author

Nyomi Gunasekera, KL Gates, Australia, corporate and transactional dispute resolution Lawyer,

Ms. Gunasekera is a lawyer in the Labour, Employment and Workplace Safety team. She also has experience in corporate and transactional and litigation and dispute resolution.

Professional/Civic Activities

  • Law Society of Western Australia member

  • Australian Lawyers for Human Rights member

61-2-9513-2407