Important Employment Legislation Changes
As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of employment laws in New Zealand, we would like to bring your attention back to recent changes employment legislation that have significant impact for businesses across the country and of all sizes. These changes are essential for employers to understand and adapt to, ensuring that they understand their obligations and the impact it has for their business, as well as recruiting new employees.
Minimum Wage Increase
The Workplace Relations and Safety Minister has announced that the adult minimum wage will be rising to $23.15 per hour from 1 April 2024. This is an increase of 45 cents per hour from the current hourly rate of $22.70.
All employers in New Zealand, no matter their size, will be able to use 90-day trial period. This change can into effect from Saturday 23 December 2023.
Previously, 90-day trials were only available for businesses of 19 employees and under. Larger businesses could only use probation periods, which had different rules and regulations.
Here are some useful tips to remember for trial periods;
- The 90 Day Trial period applies to new employees only, and not for existing employees such as casuals or fixed-term contractors who may move to full-time permanent employment.
- The employer and the new employee must sign their employment agreement before the new employee’s start date. Failure to do so will render the 90-Day Trial Period null and void.
- Employers will still need to follow a process before activating the termination clause of the 90 Day Trial Period.
- Avoid terminating in the last week of the 90 Day Trail Period. You should have an idea within the first couple of weeks or month if someone is going to work out for your business. Ensure you are having regular catchups with your new employee to ensure that you are across any potential issues.
- Don’t use the 90 Day Trial Period to ‘test drive’ new employees. This kind of practice will have a major impact to your recruitment costs and totally disrupt your workplace culture.
The Worker Protection (Migrant and other Employees) Act 2023 came into force on 6 January 2024. It strengthens immigration and employment laws to assist in protecting employees from exploitation.
An important employment law change is that employers who are unable to immediately comply with a Labour Inspector’s requirement to supply copies (or produce records for inspection) must meet this requirement within 10 working days. Failure by the employer to supply the required records within the timeframe is an infringement offence.
A Labour Inspector can:
- issue an infringement notice and a fee of $1,000 per offence, up to a maximum of $20,000 in infringement fees in a 3-month period, or
- seek a penalty at the Employment Relations Authority for each breach of up to $10,000 for an individual or $20,000 against a company or corporate body.
The Act also allows people convicted of migrant exploitation or people trafficking to be disqualified from managing or directing a company. This will ensure that persons who leverage corporate structures to avoid consequences and detection will no longer be able to do so in that capacity and will help prevent that offending from reoccurring.
The new Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Brooke van Velden, confirmed that all Fair Pay Agreements legislation will be scrapped, and it was officially repealed on 20 December 2023. This ends the short-lived Fair Pay Agreements. While no industry groups had reached the final stage past bargaining, all applications in process will cease and no more will be started.
We are here to help
If you are not sure how these changes impact your business or where you should start, then in contact with our team, and we will be more than happy to help you navigate through these changes. Our experienced team of HR experts can meet with you, help you interpret these changes for you, and assist with updating employment documents such as your employment agreements and work place policies, as well as review processes such as recruitment and onboarding.