Late last year we updated you on likely changes to employment law under the new government. As expected, the government has today unveiled sweeping changes which it intends to implement as part of its 100 day plan. We summarise the key changes announced today:
90 Day Trial Period - despite earlier indications, it appears the 90 day trial period will remain but will only be available to businesses with fewer than 20 employees. Larger businesses will be able to use a probationary period for new employees, but will need to follow a performance management and prescribed termination process before dismissal will be justified.
Meal and Rest Breaks - reversing the previous government's reforms in this area, all employees will be entitled to set rest and meal breaks, according to the length of their work day.
Union access to the workplace - Largely unfettered union access to the workplace will be reinstated, with union representatives entitled to access workplaces without employer consent (provided their access is at a reasonable time and doesn't unduly interrupt business operations). Other changes will require new employees to be provided with information about unions in the workplace and union delegates to be paid for their union work.
Collective bargaining - the new bill will reintroduce the requirement for employers to conclude a collective agreement and remove the ability to opt out, and will require collective agreements to include certain information, including set wage rates. Again, this reverses reforms introduced by the previous government to level the playing field between employers and unions.
A draft bill is scheduled to be introduced to Parliament next Thursday. We will be following its progress closely, and will update you with any further developments. This is also a good time to remind you that the adult minimum wage will be increased to $16.50 an hour from 1 April.
Candice, Ashleigh and Lotta
If you need help with updating your employment documentation in light of the upcoming changes or would like advice on your employment law obligations, we are happy to assist. Contact Candice Murphy on 09 489 0723 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.