Proposed key changes to employment law under Labour government

01 Nov 2017 |

With a new Labour led coalition government formed, there are many new policies that Labour plans to implement shortly. The key changes we can expect include:

Worker Protection

Within the first 100 days in Government, Labour intends to:
• Replace National’s 90 day ‘fire at will’ law with a fast, fair and simple system. Under the new trial periods, employees will be given reasons for dismissal and disputes will be heard within 3 weeks of being lodged. Both parties will be allowed representation but no lawyers will be allowed. The referee will seek agreement between the parties but where this is not possible, will make a final and binding decision that cannot be appealed. There will be a cap on the value of penalties that can be awarded.
• Introduce 26 weeks paid parental leave.
• Restore reinstatement as the primary remedy when an employee has been unjustifiably dismissed.
• Restore the right to rest and meal breaks at work.
• Restore protections for vulnerable workers in cases where the sale or transfer of business is contemplated, or where outsourcing of jobs is proposed.
• Ensure that New Zealand employment law applies to everyone working in New Zealand, including foreign workers working for foreign companies.

Within the first 12 months in Government, Labour intends to:

• Begin consultation on improving minimum redundancy protection for employees affected by restructuring.
• Introduce statutory support and legal rights for “dependent contractors” who are effectively workers under the control of an employer, but who do not receive the legal protections currently provided to employees under the law.
• Investigate options for ensuring that people who work over 40 hours a week receive adequate remuneration.
• Increase the number of, and resourcing for, Labour Inspectors.
• Extend the right for workers to elect a health and safety representative from amongst their own to all workplaces, regardless of size or industry.
• Abolish youth rates.

Collective bargaining and Fair Pay Agreements

Within the first 100 days in Government, Labour intends to:
• Remove the bar that prevents film and television workers bargaining collectively.
• Restore unions’ rights to initiate collective bargaining in advance of employers.
• Restore the duty on parties who are in collective bargaining, including those in multi-employer collective bargaining, to reach an agreement once bargaining has been initiated unless there is a genuine reason not to.
• Restore the right for new workers to be employed on the same terms and conditions as provided by an existing collective agreement covering their workplace.
• Remove the ability for employers to deduct pay from workers taking low level protest action during an industrial dispute.
• Restore the right for people to be visited by union representatives at their workplace.
• Increase protection against discrimination based on union membership and strengthen the integrity of collective bargaining by tightening the rules on employers automatically passing on terms and conditions to non-union workers.
• Implement the changes to the Equal Pay Act to give all women in female dominated workforces access to collective bargaining and court processes to settle their claims.

Within the first 12 months in Government, Labour intends to:
• Introduce Fair Pay Agreements that set fair, basic employment conditions across an industry based on the employment standards that apply in that industry.
• Extend the right to organise and bargain collectively to contractors who primarily sell their labour.

Compensation

Within the first 100 days in Government, Labour intends to:
• Increase the minimum wage to $16.50 an hour and base future increases on the real cost of living for people on low incomes.

Within the first 12 months in Government, Labour intends to:
• Begin consultation on improving minimum redundancy protection for workers affected by restructuring.

Want to know more?

If you would like to discuss what this might mean for you or your business please contact John Farrow, Malcolm Couling, Nic Soper, Fiona Mcmillan , Barry Dorking , or Jenna Riddle

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