Employment and Health and Safety Legislation updates

Minimum wage rate to increase from 1 April 2016

New Health and Safety at Work Act and Regulations are out now
Employment Standards Legislation Bill
Employee or Contractor? 
Easter Trading 

Minimum wage rate to increase from 1 April 2016

The minimum wage will increase by 50 cents to $15.25 an hour, on April 1.

The starting-out and training hourly minimum wages rates will increase from $11.80 to $12.20 per hour, remaining at 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage.

Employers must remember that for casual workers, an additional 8% holiday pay must be paid which can not be included in the hourly rate.

New Health and Safety at Work Act and Regulations are out now

With less than a month to go until the new Act comes into effect, many employers will be reviewing and updating their health and safety practices.  For those folk who have a safetyWIRE health and safety management system, we will be in touch separately and shortly. Regulations to help you understand what you need to do to meet your duties under the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) are out now.   These regulations will come into force on 4 April 2016, along with the HSWA.

These include regulations applicable to all businesses, as well as others focused on a particular activity, risk, hazard, or on the operation of an industry.

The regulations cover the following;

·         General Risk and Workplace Management: These regulations apply to all workplaces in New Zealand.  They prescribe what must be done in specific circumstances to meet the duties under the new law.

·         Worker Engagement, Participation and Representation: These will help businesses meet their duties of worker participation under HSWA.  All workplaces need to have effective worker engagement, participation and representations practices under HSWA.

·         Additionally, regulations are available for: Asbestos: Adventure Activities: Major Hazard Facilities: Mining Operations and Quarrying Operations:  Petroleum Exploration and Extraction: Rates of Levy Funding.

If you’d like to make managing your health and safety obligations easier, give Paddy a call on 09 838 6338.

Employment Standards Legislation Bill

The Employment Standards Legislation Bill proposes to amend the New Zealand employment law to ensure it responds to the modern, dynamic business environment and encourages fair and productive workplaces. The Employment Standards Legislation Bill has passed its second reading on 3 March 2016.

The changes will:

·         Extend paid parental leave to more workers and increase the flexibility of the scheme

·         Strengthen enforcement of employment standards

·         Address issues such as “zero-hour contracts” and other unfair employment practices.

We believe if it goes ahead in its current form, many NZ wine/vineyard employers will be affected by the “zero hours” aspect of the proposed legislation. As we know of many companies have a permanent part time arrangement with staff, with no guaranteed hours, and in fact will send people home if there’s no work for reasons such as weather, etc., Another change is around requiring staff to be available to work, or requiring them to work additional hours beyond those specified in an Employment Agreement.

The Bill makes changes to the following legislation:

·         Employment Relations Act 2000

·         The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987

·         Minimum Wage Act 1983

·         Holidays Act 2003

·         Wages Protection Act 1983

Before the new law comes into force, MBIE will develop an information and education plan to inform businesses, including small businesses, and workers of the changes.

The Employment Standards Legislation Bill includes a package of measures to prevent unfair employment practices in the New Zealand labour market, such as “zero-hour contracts".

The changes aim to retain flexibility where it is desired by both, employers and employees, but also increase certainty by ensuring that both parties are aware at the beginning of the working relationship of the mutual commitment that they have made.

The changes will mean that where the employer and employee agree to a set number of hours, they will be required to state those hours in the employment agreement.

They also prohibit the following practices:

·         employers not committing any hours of work, but expecting employees to be available when required

·         employers cancelling a shift without reasonable notice or compensation to the employee

·         employers putting unreasonable restrictions on secondary employment  of employees

·         employers making unreasonable deductions from employees’ wages.

When hours are agreed, these must be stated in the employment agreement

Where the employer and employee agree to a set amount of hours, they will be required to state those hours in the employment agreement. This will ensure employers and employees are clear in their commitments to each other. The employer and the employee do not have to agree on set hours if both prefer flexibility.

The changes will prohibit employers from requiring employees to be available above their agreed hours stated in their employment agreement unless employees are compensated for that availability as agreed in the employment agreement. Employers are not obliged to offer, and employees are free to decline, work that is above the agreed number of hours.

Cancelling a shift only with reasonable notice or compensation

Prohibiting unreasonable restrictions on secondary employment

Prohibiting unreasonable deductions from employees’ wages


Employee or Contractor?

Handy new tool from the Labour Inspectorate/MBIE to help you decide


Easter Trading

Easter 2016 - Good Friday 25 March 2016 - Public Holiday

Easter Sunday 27 March 2016 - Not a public holiday

Easter Monday 28 March 2016 - Public holiday

The shop trading rules apply on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Christmas Day and before 1pm on ANZAC Day.

Good Friday is a public holiday and it is also one of the 3½ days a year when shop trading legislation requires most shops to close.

Easter Sunday is not a public holiday and is therefore treated like any other Sunday in relation to employment. Easter Sunday is however subject to shop trading restrictions. The shop trading legislation only limits the ability for shops to trade; it does not limit the ability to provide work for employees. If your business normally operates on a Sunday and you do not require employees to work on Easter Sunday it is recommended you consider how the day will be managed and discuss your requirements with employees. Annual leave or changes in rostered days may be considered as options as long as you comply with the Holidays Act requirements and any relevant terms of employment.

Easter Monday is a public holiday.

Public holidays - Good Friday and Easter Monday

If employees work on a public holiday they will be entitled to the time and a half payment for the time actually worked on the public holiday. If Good Friday or Easter Monday falls on a day that would otherwise be a working day for an employee and they work on any part of the day you must give them an alternative holiday.

In many cases it will be very clear that the day on which the public holiday falls would otherwise be a working day for an employee. However, if it is not clear an employer and employee should consider the following factors with a view to reaching an agreement on the issue:

•       The employee’s employment agreement

•       The employee’s work patterns

•       Any other relevant factors, including - whether the employee works for the employer only when work is available - the employer’s rosters or other similar systems - the reasonable expectations of the employer and the employee that the employee would work on the day concerned

•       Whether, but for the day being a public holiday, the employee would have worked on the day concerned.

Public holiday transfer

The Holidays Act allows employers and employees to agree in writing to transfer a public holiday to any 24 hour period.

06 March 2016
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