Whilst the election outcome remains uncertain it seems some changes to the employment environment are likely, perhaps regardless of the composition of the new government. With New Zealand First having a key role its worth examining what some of the changes may look like. Based on pre-election policies some of the policies worth reflecting on are:
Compulsory Redundancy Compensation
NZ First wishes to set minimum redundancy compensation provisions based on twice the normal contractual notice period up to a maximum of 13 weeks’ pay.
Review of Casual Employment Practices
NZ First seeks a review to ensure casual employment practices are fair and just.
Scrapping Trial Periods
Labour would scrap the trial period provisions introduced by a National-led Government in 2009 that allows employers to dismiss new employees without a justifiable cause within the first 90 days of employment. A new trial period regime would be introduced that allows such employees to have recourse to a new referee service that is to be established.
Fair Pay Agreements (FPA’s)
Labour would introduce Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs). FPAs are designed to set basic standards of pay and other conditions within an industry including allowances, weekend/night rates and leave entitlements.
NZ First would abolish the “starting out wage” for young people.
NZ First would amend the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to get rid of bureaucratic excesses.
Twice as Many Labour Inspectors
Labour would double the number of Labour Inspectors aimed at ensuring employees’ minimum rights are protected.
Increase the Minimum Wage
Labour would increase the current minimum wage from $15.75 to $16.50 per hour. NZ First would increase it to $20 per hour.
Labour would extend paid parental leave from 18 weeks to 26 weeks.
NZ First supports this.
NZ First would introduce paid paternal leave of 2 weeks, to increase to 4 weeks.
Equal Pay Amendment Bill
NZ First support the private members Bill of Green MP Jan Logie that would require all employers to collect information about how much men and women are paid. The aim is to make it easier to find out where there is discrimination.
Will the Higher Earners Law Change Survive?
In our last Newsletter we reported on the Employment Relations (Allowing Higher Earners to Contract out of Personal Grievance Provisions) Amendment Bill 2016. The aim was “to allow employees with an annual gross salary of over $150,000 per annum to contract out of personal grievance provisions”.
The Select Committee reported back on 15 August 2017. It proposed pursuing this law change with some amendments.
Both NZ First and Labour oppose the Bill. NZ First do not see the Bill as necessary. Labour opposes the change on the basis it is “Unnecessary, poorly targeted and established a dangerous concept in New Zealand’s workplace relations framework.”
It would appear this proposed change to employment law is unlikely to happen.