Significant changes took place to employment law in New Zealand on the 6th March 2015 when the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2014 will come into effect. Here is a brief summary of the main changes:
- Flexible work: the right to request flexible working arrangements will be extended to all employees and it will be easier to request by removing some limits and requirements.
- Rest and meal breaks: these changes recognise the need for breaks to be practical for each workplace and the new provisions provide more flexibility. Employers and employees can’t contract out of the right to rest and meal breaks. An employee has to get a break or a compensatory measure.
- Continuity of employment (for specified employees): the changes are mostly in regards to transferring employees’ entitlement and information to a new employer.
- Good faith: this change amends the good faith provisions and clarifies what information employees are entitled to during restructures or other situations where their continued employment is at risk. An employer must give the effected employee relevant confidential information about themselves, but not about another employee (if the information legally must stay confidential, or there is good reason to keep the information confidential) .
- Collective bargaining: key changes are that the parties are no longer required to reach a collective agreement, it removes the 30-day rule that gives non-union members who are new employees the terms and conditions from the collective agreement, allows a proportionate pay reduction as a response to partial strikes, advance written notice will be required for any proposed strikes and lockouts in all sectors
- Employment Relations Authority: changes introduce requirements for when and how the Authority must give determinations.
Further information is available from Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment