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The ERA Has Arrived. Are You Compliant?

Published May 16, 2019 (last updated December 3, 2020) Author: Employsure
Employment-Relations-Amendment-Act

Employment Relations Amendment Act

Employsure is urging small business owners across New Zealand to make sure they are compliant with the latest round of changes to the Employment Relations Act, which came into effect on May 6.

Employers must now comply with new provisions around rest and meal breaks, 90 day trials, vulnerable workers, union rights, collective bargaining and collective agreements.

The changes are set to have a big impact on small businesses who need to be compliant, according to Employsure’s Advice Team Leader Ashlea Maley.

“The Employment Relations Amendment Act ushered in significant changes to the national workplace relations system that affect every employer in the country,” Ms Maley said. “We’re strongly encouraging business owners to review their operations, processes and policies to make sure they are compliant with these changes.”

Related: The key changes and timelines for the Employment Relations Act

Perhaps the biggest change set to impact business owners will be the restriction of 90 day trials to businesses of 19 or fewer employees.

“As of 6 May 2019, having a 90 day trial in an employment agreement will be restricted to businesses that employ fewer than 20 employees,” Ms Maley said. “Since 2011 all employers had been able to put new staff on a 90 day trial, effectively allowing them to assess the new employee’s ability to perform the role, and — if things didn’t work out — dismiss them without risk of a Personal Grievance relating to the dismissal.

“For medium-sized businesses who employ 20 people or more, it will mean putting greater emphasis on the recruitment and management of new staff as the protection of the 90 day trial will be removed.”

Employers will also need to be aware of the introduction of set rest and meal breaks, with specific rules in terms of payment, length and timing.

“While it could be argued this adds a layer of complexity for business owners when employing and managing staff, it also adds greater certainty around an entitlement to reasonable breaks that had previously been a source of confusion,” Ms Maley added. “This change means both employers and employees know exactly where they stand when agreeing to rest and meal breaks.”

“The best thing small business owners can do is be aware of the changes, implement them into their business and get proper advice around any areas of confusion. Non-compliance could have serious consequences, so it’s best to be on the front-foot.”

Need help implementing the changes?

Contact Employsure to find out how we can help you.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small and medium businesses, with over 5,500 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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