5 Employment Law changes in New Zealand for 2019

If you’re an employer then you need to be aware of the latest changes in employment law. Not keeping abreast of these changes could leave you liable to prosecution, or even unintentionally mistreating your employees.

The first thing you should do is sign up with employers.co.nz; this will ensure you have the updates and assistance you need to keep up to date with the law.

Here are 5 employment law changes in New Zealand for 2019 that you should be aware of:

1. Union Representatives

It is now possible for any union representative to enter a workplace without the consent of the employer. Of course, the employees must already be covered or negotiating a collective agreement. If there is no union presence then the union reps cannot enter until an agreement is started to be processed, unless they have the consent of the employer.

It is possible for a union rep to enter a workplace and assist a non-union employee; if they have been specifically requested to do so.

2. Partial Strikes & Pay

A partial strike, such as not wearing a uniform, cannot be punished with a pay deduction. It is still permissible for employers to suspend an employee without pay or even lock them out.

3. Multi-Collective Agreements

It is now essential for a business to bargain in relation to multi-collective agreements; but only if their reason for not settling is based on a reasonable argument.

For example, a wage difference could be argued as reasonable if the locations of the factories are in different regions.

4. Employee Extended Protection

It is not possible to discriminate against an employee simply because they are a member of a union, or are intending to become a member. If an employer undertakes any action that appears to be discriminatory against a union based activity, within 18 months of that activity, then it can be deemed as discriminatory and subject to proceedings.

This is an extension of 6 months on the existing rules.

5. Employee Reinstatement

If an employee decides to take the employer to court for unfair dismissal then they have the right to be asked to be reinstated. If this is requested then it must be the first course of action considered by the Employment Relations Authority, assuming the unfair dismissal claim is upheld.

The employee will be entitled to their job back and all rights reinstated, as though they had never left.

The above changes came into effect at the beginning of 2019, however, it is also worth noting that that, as of the 6 May 2019 the right to set meal and rest breaks is to be restored.

Employees working an 8 hour day will be entitled to two 10 minute rest breaks and a 30-minute meal break; regardless of what time of day or night their shift is.

It will also only be possible to set a trial period for a new employee of 90 days if you have less than 20 employees.