Updates on Employment Issues - March 2016

With Easter around the corner, WorkSafe finalising regulations to support the new Health and Safety at Work Act, and amendments to legistation such as the abolishment of zero-hour contracts and the minimum wage going up, we thought it best to keep you in the loop.

Here is what you need to know:

1. Easter 2016

Easter is early this year, with Good Friday falling on 25 March. Good Friday and Easter Monday are the designated public holidays at Easter. Easter Sunday is not a public holiday, but as most shops are required to close, you will need to consider how employees who would normally have worked on that Sunday will be treated. One of three things can happen to employees whose workplaces must close on Easter Sunday:

  • An employer may give employees 14 days' notice to take a day of annual leave owing to them on the Easter Sunday (this means notice had to be given by 12 March).
  • The employee's employment contract or agreement may specify whether or not the employee will be paid, or if they will undertake alternative duties that day.
  • An employer and employee may agree to transfer a public holiday to which the employee is entitled to Easter Sunday. In other words, transfer Easter Monday (when shops are open) to Easter Sunday (when most shops are required to close).

2. Health and Safety 

The new regulations on Health & Safety become effective on 4 April.  These make significant changes to your liability as an employer or head contractor.  Check out Worksafe New Zealand for information on your industry.

3.  Paid Parental Leave 

From 1 April 2016 paid parental leave will increase from 16 to 18 weeks. 

4.  Zero-hour contracts

From 1 April 2016 planned changes will mean that, when hiring, employers must guarantee to give employees agreed hours of work. This will mean you won't be able to:

  • expect employees to be available to work with no guarantee of hours
  • cancel a shift without giving employees reasonable notice or reasonable compensation
  • make unreasonable deductions from wages
  • unreasonably restrict an employee's secondary employment.

When this legislation is passed it may require you to update youremployment agreements.

5.  Enforcement of Employment Standards

From 1 April 2016 planned changes will strengthen the enforcement of minimum employment standards including minimum wage and holidays entitlements. These changes will include a new infringement notice regime, clearer record-keeping requirements, and tougher sanctions for the most serious breaches, such as exploitation.  The Department of Labour will be doing more spot checks on your records keeping.

6. The Minimum wage is going up

From 1 April 2016 the minimum wage is going up.

  • the adult minimum wage will increase from $14.75 to $15.25 an hour
  • the starting-out and training hourly minimum wages will increase from $11.80 to $12.20 an hour.

More information is available at Business.govt.nz

If you would like further help, or to talk to one of our team about anything in this blog, please call us on 0800 236 446.

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