New Employment Legislation

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New employment legislation will come into force from 1 April following the Employment Standards Legislation passing its third reading in parliament on 10 March 2016.

The legislation will:

  • Extend paid parental leave (PPL) to more employees and increase the flexibility of the scheme.
    Note that the duration of paid parental leave from 14 to 18 weeks also takes effect from 1 April 2016;
  • Strengthen enforcement of employment standards by, amongst other measures increasing sanctions against employers for the most serious breaches of the Act; and
  • Address issue such as ‘zero-hour contracts and other unfair employment practices.

The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Minister, Hon Michael Woodhouse, said “The Bill eliminates zero hour contracts by getting rid of unfair employment practices where employers do not commit any hours of work, but expect employees to be available when required without compensation.

“The Bill also extends PPL entitlements to more workers, including casual and seasonal workers, and primary carers other than biological and formal adoptive parents. It also increases the flexibility of the scheme.

“Parents of premature babies will also benefit from additional weeks of parental leave payments (which could be as many as 13 weeks extra) to better support them during what can be a particularly challenging time.

“The changes to PPL recognise the diversity of modern work and family arrangements and aim to better support families by making it easier for parents to stay connected to the workforce. The enforcement of minimum employment standards will also be strengthened with tougher sanctions for employers who intentionally breach minimum standards, increased tools for labour inspectors and clearer record keeping requirements.”

For more information, see: www.employment.govt.nz/er/services/law/legislationreviews/employment-standards-bill.asp

To ensure your business stays compliant with the new legislation, please contact:
Michael Stephens or Alan Henwood at Stephens Lawyers on 04 915 9580