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Employment law changes ahead

Published: 22nd March 2019

Author: Sarah Heald, Dorrington Poole

Published in: Rural e.speaking

Domestic Violence – Victims Protection Act 2018:

From 1 April 2019 this legislation will impose new obligations on employers under three pieces of employment legislation and the Human Rights Act 1993.

Employers will be required to pay up to 10 days/year of paid domestic violence leave. Employees may take this leave as needed in order to deal with the effects of domestic violence – similar to existing sick and bereavement leave provisions.

This paid domestic violence leave is available after six months’ continuous employment to an employee if they are the person affected by domestic violence. This is regardless of how long ago the domestic violence occurred, and even if it occurred before the person became an employee.

A person is affected by domestic violence if:
• They are a person against whom another person inflicts or has inflicted domestic violence, and/or
• A person with whom there ordinarily or periodically resides a child against whom any other person inflicts or has inflicted domestic violence.

Also an employee affected by domestic violence is entitled to seek flexible working arrangements for a short-term period of no more than two months. A request must be in writing and their employer must deal with it as soon as possible, but no later than 10 working days after receiving the request.

Rest and meal breaks: From 6 May 2019, employees’ rest and meal breaks must be at exact intervals prescribed by the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 – unless both parties have agreed they may be taken at different times.

The minimum entitlement varies depending on total hour work periods. For example, if working a shift of between four and six hours, an employee is entitled to a paid one 10-minute rest break and one unpaid 30-minute meal break. Those breaks must be taken at one-third and two-thirds of the way through the work period, unless the parties have agreed they may be taken at a different time.
Restriction on the use of 90-day trial periods: A trial period allows employers to dismiss an employee within a 90-day period without being subject to a claim of unjustified dismissal.

From 6 May 2019, 90-day trial periods will only be available to employers with fewer than 20 employees (19 or less). Other requirements remain such as the employee must have a written employment agreement containing a valid trial period provision; the employee must also not have previously worked for the employer.

These are some significant changes to our employment laws (and not all are mentioned here). If you need further information or would like to discuss these matters with us please do be in touch.

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