ERA Bill Passes into Law

Changes to the Employment Relations Act

We reported on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill earlier in the year.   In summary, the amendments introduce greater union and employee rights, and the described aim of the changes was to increase fairness between employees and employers (see our previous article here, outlining details of the changes). 

The Bill proposed some significant employment law changes and has therefore taken some time to go through readings and Select Committee processes.  Following endorsement by the majority of the Education and Workforce Committee and then the Bill passing it’s third reading on 5 December 2018, we can now confirm that the proposed changes are going ahead. 

How might the changes impact our clients?

The changes reintroduce more rigid rest and meal break requirements, together with new calculations for how breaks are paid.  If you have applied flexibility to break times and frequency, this may be something you need to change.  Check what you have included in your employment agreements too.

If you have 20 or more staff, you will no longer be able to utilise a 90-day Trial Period for new employees.

Also, if your workplace has a collective employment agreement or union membership, there may be a number of changes that will be relevant to your workplace, such as union representative entering the workplace without consent, pay deductions can no longer be made for partial strikes and businesses must now enter into bargaining for multi-employer collective agreements, if asked to join by a union, for example.

When do the changes take effect?

Most changes take effect at two times: the day after Royal assent (expected the week of 10 December), and on 6 May 2019. 

Changes we are asked about frequently, including the changes to rest and meal break requirements and employers with 20 or more staff no longer being able to use a Trial Period, will be effective 6 May 2019.  

To see all of the specific changes effective on each of these dates, follow this link to MBIE’s employment website: https://www.employment.govt.nz/about/employment-law/employment-relations-amendment-bill-2018/ 

If you would like to discuss how any of these changes may potentially affect your business, policies, employment agreements or processes, please contact us on 03 545 0877 to speak to one of our team.

Disclaimer: the content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.

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