Changes to the employment landscape – May 2019

May is here and so are the Government’s latest wave of employment changes.

What’s happened so far?

Last month we saw increases to the minimum wage, payday filing changes and the Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act 2018 came into force.  This month we see changes to meal breaks, 90-day trial periods and more.

Missed those changes? Here’s a brief rundown:

Employment Relations Amendment Act (as of April 2019)

Minimum wage

The current minimum wage rates (before tax) are as at 1 April 2019 and apply to employees aged 16 years or over:

Type of minimum wage

Per hour

8 hour day

40 hour week

80 hour fortnight

Adult

$17.70

$141.60

$708.00

$1,416.00

Starting-out

$14.16

$113.28

$566.40

$1,132.80

Training

$14.16

$113.28

$556.40

$1,132.80

Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act 2018

Employers are required to provide additional support to employees who are affected by domestic violence under the Domestic Violence – Victims' Protection Act 2018.

The Act, which affects all employers, includes flexible working hours and 10 days paid leave to employees affected by domestic violence.

The new legislation came into force on April 1st 2019. 

You can read more about this here.

Payday Filing

From now on employers must:

  • file employment information every payday instead of an Employer monthly schedule (IR348)

  • provide new and departing employees' address information, as well as their date of birth - if they have provided it to you, and

  • file electronically (from payday compatible software or through myIR) if your annual PAYE/ESCT is $50,000 or more.

  • Note: The due date for payment remains the same at the 20th of the month (or 5th and 20th of the month for twice-monthly filers).

You can read more about payday filing here

Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 (as of May 6th)

Some employers will have already been affected the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 which was approved last December (2018), particularly surrounding union access and multi-employer collective bargaining.

Further changes under the agreement will take effect from May 6th 2019. Changes employers need to be aware of include:

  • Employers must offer set meal breaks with specific rules in terms of payment, length and timing; full requirements can be found here.

  • 90-day trial periods will now only apply to SMEs with 19 or fewer employees. Businesses with 20 or more employees can continue to use probationary periods to assess an employee’s skills against the role’s responsibilities.

  • Employers taking on employees in specified ‘vulnerable industries’ will have to maintain terms and conditions already provided in the employee’s employment agreement. Employers will also have to give longer notice periods for employees to decide whether they want to transfer to the new employer.

Changes for collective bargaining, collective agreement and unions

  • Parties bargaining for a collective agreement will have to conclude single-employer collective bargaining (unless there are genuine reasons based on reasonable grounds not to).

  • The 30-day rule will be restored, therefore new employees must be employed under terms consistent with the collective agreement for the first 30 days. The employer and employee may agree more favourable terms than the collective.

  • Pay rates will need to be included in collective agreements, along with an indication of how the rate of wages or salary payable may increase over the agreement’s term.

  • Employer’s obligations to prospective and new employees who are not union members will be changing, including a duty to pass union information.

  • Employers will need to allow for reasonable paid time for union delegates to undertake their union activities, such as representing employees in collective bargaining.

  • Employers must provide new employees with the prescribed form within the employee’s first ten days of employment and return the form to the applicable union(s), unless the employee objects. A copy of the form can be found here.

    Further information about providing the form can be found here.

What next?

These changes will affect all employers. All employees need to be informed of the new rights available to them and this must be reflected in their employment agreements. For more information about updating your employment agreements click here.

If you would like further information or advice on implementing the changes in your organisation please call (03) 366 4034 or email info@eqconsultants.co.nz and refer to this article.

This article is not intended as legal advice but is intended to alert you to current topics of interest.