Many employers in New Zealand struggle to keep up with employment law changes. What may have been standard for many years, could suddenly change to something totally new. This can happen without warning and leave employers feeling frustrated and left behind.
Over the past 30 years, employers in New Zealand have witnessed new employment acts such as the Employment Relations Act 2000, Holidays Act 2013, and Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. All of these acts have made New Zealand workplaces fairer and safer places to be.
Many of these big changes are brought to the attention of employers with public announcements, promotional campaigns and widespread coverage from the press. This ensures that all employers are aware of the changes and have several weeks or months to update their company policies and procedures.
Both employers and employees have basic rights and obligations they need to follow. For example, employers agree to pay a minimum wage and provide a safe work environment, while the employee agrees to perform their job with care and competency.
Employment law covers a diverse range of areas in regards to workplace relations from hours and wages, to workplace policies and ending employment.
Some of these basic minimum rights cover the following areas:
• Employment agreements
• holiday, parental and sick leave
• Rest and meal breaks
• Hours and wages
• Health and safety
• Employment relations issues
Many employment law changes have occurred over the past decade. Being open and transparent about these changes is an effective way for employers to retain employees and establish trust in the workforce. Some of the more notable employment changes which have previously occurred include:
• March 6 2015, in regards to flexible employment arrangements, employees no longer need to be employed for at least six months to ask for flexible working hours.
• April 1 2017, minimum wage increased to $15.75 an hour and training hourly wage increase to $12.60 an hour.
• April 1 2017, in regards to trial periods for Individual Employment Agreements (IEAs), employers must now specify whether a trial period is occurring for 90 days or less.
Amendments to employment law occur on a yearly basis, which can either affect many industries or just one sector. For example, did you know as of 1 July 2017, the maximum weekly rate for parental leave candidates increased from $527.72 to $538.55 gross per week?
These kinds of minor changes can have a dramatic impact on small businesses. But they happen so frequently that employers can easily get left behind. Sometimes they will not find out about an employment law change until it is too late.
Regardless of the changes to employment law in New Zealand, employers must have policies and procedures in place that are current and relevant to their industry. If employers fail to implement the latest changes to employment law, there is a real risk of being liable for an employee dispute or facing a fine.
Since employment laws cover a range of topics and industries, keeping track of the latest policy changes is a burden for employers. However, there are a few quick and easy ways to stay informed on changes, such as:
• Subscribe to the Employment New Zealand online newsletter for info on industry cases and policy changes.
• Subscribe to reputable trade magazines, websites, and online newsletters that are relevant to each industry.
• Employsure runs free seminars for business owners on a variety of employment relations topics across the country. Visit our events page to check availability.
By staying connected with print and online distribution channels, you can stop worry about being left behind and instantly get updates on the latest policy and procedure changes.
Employsure advises small businesses across New Zealand on the latest changes to employment law. For peace of mind, call our Advice Line day or night on 0800 675 700.