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Employment Law Changes Ahead

Published: 31st January 2018

Author: Greg McCardle, BMC Lawyers

The 2017 general election has given the Labour-led government an opportunity to re-shape the direction of employment law in New Zealand.

We outline the upcoming changes, announced on 25 January, which include modifications to the 90-day trial period, the restoration of rest periods and collective bargaining. These changes will be incorporated into an amendment to the Employment Relations Act 2000. We also touch on the proposed compulsory redundancy provisions.

The 90-day trial period

After early indications that this change was to affect all businesses, the government will abolish the current 90-day trial periods for businesses with more than 20 employees. The 90-day trial periods remain in place for businesses
with 19 or fewer employees.
New employees of businesses with 20+ employees now have recourse against any perceived unfair treatment and unjustified dismissal by allowing them to bring personal grievance proceedings during the first 90 days of employment.
If this proposal goes ahead and your business has 20+ employees, your employment agreements will need to be amended to remove reference to the 90-day trial period.

Changes to compulsory breaks

Statutory rest and meal breaks will be restored, with limited exceptions for workers such as air traffic controllers where it is not practical for workers to take breaks at the same time. This will introduce new practical and logistical challenges to businesses in addition to introducing new compliance obligations.

Union access to a workplace

The government proposes that unions will have free access to workplaces. Union representatives will be able to enter a workplace without consent – as long as it’s at a reasonable time and doesn’t interrupt business operations.

Collective bargaining scope maybe extended

The government has introduced the first of a range of law changes designed to extend the scope of collective bargaining and make union membership more attractive.
This includes imposing a duty once collective bargaining is initiated to reach an agreement unless there is a genuine reason not to, requirements to include pay rates in collective agreements and to pass on the same conditions to new workers, protections against discrimination on the basis of union membership and the ability to engage in low-level industrial action without the threat of pay deductions.

The government has proposed a number of other changes to collective bargaining not contained in this Bill including the development of ‘fair pay agreements’ that set minimum employment conditions based on industry standards across entire industries without the ability for employers to opt out. There are also proposals to restore the right of film and television workers to collectively bargain, and rules preventing non-union members receiving the same terms without joining that union have been put on an extended timeframe to allow thorough consideration and input by all stakeholders.

Proposed compulsory redundancy provisions

Within its first 12 months of office, the government will consult with all relevant stakeholders on increasing minimum redundancy protection for employees affected by restructuring.
The process will need to address an anticipated strong reaction from small businesses which may result in an increase in business insolvency as redundancy entitlements may make business restructuring less desirable than insolvency. For employees, this may increase the chance of unemployment without redundancy compensation from an insolvent employer.

Upcoming changes to the minimum wage and paid parental leave

We remind you that on 1 April the minimum wage will increase to $16.50/hour and that on 1 July the paid parental leave entitlement will increase from 18 to 22 weeks.
The objective of these law changes signalled by the government’s 25 January announcement is to improve conditions for employees. The government has indicated its focus will be on the advancement of small businesses. To meet this goal more consideration will need to be given to the proposed changes as, on the face of it, these proposals are wide-reaching and will place more responsibilities on small business owners.

The government will introduce the new legislation on Thursday, 1 February. We will keep you up-to-date on the employment law front as the year progresses.

  • Auckland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Canterbury
  • Coromandel
  • Gisborne
  • Hawke's Bay
  • Kapiti Coast
  • Manawatu - Wanganui
  • Marlborough
  • Nelson
  • Northland
  • Otago
  • Southland
  • Taranaki
  • Waikato
  • Wairarapa
  • Wellington
  • West Coast

Price Baker Berridge

Price Baker Berridge is a boutique law firm specialising in Unit Titles and Body Corporate law. Our wealth of experience includes Leaky Building Litigation and Resolution, Meetings, Levies, Rules and Redevelopments.

We also provide a full range of general legal services, including Property, Commercial, Trusts, Litigation and Employment Law.

Our clients, from individuals to large corporates, value our commitment to providing cost-effective advice and solutions.

Region: Auckland

Phone: 09 836 1079

Attewell Clews & Cooper

Attewell Clews & Cooper is one of Whakatane’s largest and longest standing law firms. Our team embrace a culture of relaxed professionalism and share a common goal to provide high quality legal advice that is both practical and understandable. 

We are committed to being at the top of our game to ensure that our clients receive accurate and up-to-date legal advice.  We understand the world is online and use fore-front technology to achieve greater productivity and efficiency.  We encourage contact via email and text message, use an online legal library, have an intuitive practice management system and encourage our clients to pay online.

It is important to us that we understand your business and your unique individual (and family) situation. We work hard to provide sound legal advice that is tailored to your business industry and your personal goals. You will see us out and about in the community supporting local businesses, schools, community and sporting events. Talk to us today to find out how we can help you.

Region: Bay of Plenty

Phone: 07 307 0570

Parry Field Lawyers

With expertise in a wide variety of legal matters, Parry Field has developed a reputation for providing high quality legal advice and services in a timely fashion.

With offices in Riccarton, Hokitika and Rolleston Parry Field like to cover all bases.

Region: Canterbury

Phone: 03 348 8480

Purnell Lawyers

There is nothing as inevitable as change. Since opening for business early last century, we at Purnell Lawyers have seen many changes both in name and in the people who have made up the members of our team. We have been privileged to have served the public throughout all of these times. 

We are confident that we will continue to bring top quality legal services to our clients well into the future.

Region: Coromandel

Phone: 07 868 8680

Woodward Chrisp

At Woodward Chrisp we strive to meet the needs of our clients by providing a wide range of high quality legal services within a supportive and collaborative environment.

Woodward Chrisp is the amalgamation of two long established Gisborne legal firms: Woodward Iles & Co and Chrisp and Chrisp. 

Region: Gisborne

Phone: 06 869 0900

Gifford Devine

For all life’s matters, the team at Gifford Devine have your back. Since 1896, our lawyers have been providing straight-talking, practical advice and advocacy to people, families and businesses in Hawke’s Bay.

As your legal champions, we’ll serve you as a trusted adviser, listen to your needs, offer plain English advice, and find a solution to get you the best possible outcome.

We have the expertise to identify potential legal issues, to help you make important decisions, and to realise your goals. We’re your legal champions for all reasons and at all stages of life.

Region: Hawke's Bay

Phone: 06 873 0420

BMC Lawyers

BMC lawyers has built a reputation for providing quality service and delivering real results. Our strength is our broad-ranging legal experience that gives us the ability to match clients with the right mix of legal skills for their particular needs.

Our legal professionals are passionate about what they do and work alongside a talented team of support and administration staff to make a real positive difference to our clients.”

Region: Kapiti Coast

Phone: 04 296 1105

CS Law

Looking after you, your family, and the small print.

Region: Manawatu - Wanganui

Phone: 06 368 9239

Wain & Naysmith

Based in Blenheim, Wain & Naysmith Lawyers is a full service law firm, and a powerhouse for property, family and business law.

We pride ourselves in providing clear and cost effective legal solutions and practical advice for you, your family and your business.

Region: Marlborough

Phone: 03 520 6103

Knapps Lawyers

As a firm, we promise to look after you and treat you in a manner that we would expect to be treated by a professional services provider; we promise to use every available legal remedy available to us to resolve your issue and to do what you ask us to do in a timely manner.

We will hold in strict confidence all information that we acquire through our work for you and which concerns your business or personal information.  The only exceptions are where you authorise us to disclose such information or where we must do so by law.

Region: Nelson

Phone: 03 544 7888

Thomson Wilson

Thomson Wilson is a full service law firm based in Whangarei. We’ve been trusted lawyers for the Northland community and beyond for 75 years.

We act for individuals and families, businesses, public sector and other organisations. Whether you need no-fuss advice on a simple matter, or a team of legal experts. 

Our staff provide advice in most areas of the law, including property law, business law, trusts and estates, separation and divorce, resource management, criminal law and more.

We also offer expertise in specialist areas such as Maori land, local government law, farming and forestry.

Region: Northland

Phone: 09 430 4380

Aspiring Law

As one of the leading general practice law firms in Wanaka, the wider Upper Clutha and Central Otago Lakes district, our job is to explain both of our respective roles in managing your legal matters.

We’re a friendly group of people and our philosophy is based on three simple principles to make sure you avoid messy, lengthy, and costly legal issues:

  • Don’t leave anything to chance - certainty provides peace of mind
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  • Ask for that advice early - it will be cheaper for you in the long term

Region: Otago

Phone: 03 443 0900

Cruickshank Pryde

We are proud to provide a full suite of legal services to the regions of Southland and Central Otago. With our offices, located in Invercargill, Gore and Queenstown, equipped with the latest modern technology, we can service wider New Zealand and international clients with ease. Our areas of expertise include commercial, rural, business, employment, family, criminal, property, resource management and estate planning law.

Region: Southland

Phone: 03 214 4069

Connect Legal Taranaki

Two of Taranaki’s longstanding legal firms, RMY Legal and Billings Lawyers, are merging to become Connect Legal Taranaki.

Connect Legal Taranaki will support the evolving needs of our valued clients and future clients throughout the region by offering extensive legal expertise under one roof. From April this year you’ll find the new look Connect Legal Taranaki in the former RMY Legal premises on Powderham Street.

Region: Taranaki

Phone: 06 769 8080

Le Pine & Co

Le Pine & Co is the largest provider of legal services in the Taupo District, having provided legal services in the Taupo District and the Central North Island since 1953. Le Pine & Co is a full service firm, providing legal services in most areas of the law. The Le Pine & Co team offer a variety of specialised services from offices in Taupo, Putaruru and Turangi. The team are solution focused and will help unravel the mysteries of the law for you.

Le Pine & Co enjoys supporting and contributing to the Taupo community and many of its organisations. Building bike trails with Bike Taupo, setting up trusts for inspiring local projects, supporting the youth of Taupo - the team at Le Pine & Co gets involved in its community in a wide variety of ways. 

Region: Waikato

Phone: 07 378 5030

Gawith Burridge

Gawith Burridge traces its history back to 1875 when Charles Gawith first set up his practice. Since then the firm has undergone many changes, including a merger between Gawith & Co and Burridge & Co in 1998 to form our current practice.

Our firm draws on the breadth of expertise available from some of the region’s most senior legal practitioners, as well as the skills of those who have moved here from larger corporate environments.

As a result, we provide clients with a comprehensive range of legal services right here in the Wairarapa. We can provide you with legal assistance whether you are an individual or a company, with everything from setting up a Will to selling your farming business. 

Region: Wairarapa

Phone: 06 370 0000

Greg Kelly Law Ltd

Greg Kelly Law Limited is a boutique Wellington law firm specialising in trust and elder law. Our practice areas are wills, estates and trusts.

We act for private and institutional clients establishing and administering trusts, wills and estates. We also provide quality advice to legal and accounting firms in New Zealand and overseas. In particular, we can assist with legal opinions, obtaining and resealing probate, and estate and trust litigation.

Region: Wellington

Phone: 04 499 5193

No firms in West Coast

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