Employment Legislation is changing

You will no doubt be aware that there was a range of legislation changes that came into effect from 1 April and 6 May this year. At The Chamber, our team of experienced advisers are on hand to guide you through these changes and what they mean for your business. 

The recent amendments to the Employment Relations Act have and will bring about some major changes to the collective bargaining landscape, as well as union rights in the workplace, which you will need to be prepared for.

Please find below an overview of the changes, as well as quick links to resources to help get you up to speed on what this all means for your business.

Our business advisers Melicia, Keith and Kelly, are on hand to discuss the impact the changes to the Employee Relations Act 2018 will have on your business - please email info@cecc.org.nz or call 0800 50 50 96 to speak with one of the team directly.

Minimum Wage | Effective 1 April

The Minimum Wage increased to $17.70 per hour with Government signalling the intention to further increase this to $18.90 per hour in 2020 and $20 per hour in 2021.

Starting out Wage for employees between the ages of 16 and 19 years, as well as the Training Rate which has been set at $14.16 per hour (80% of minimum wage) and can be paid under specific circumstances.

For further details please refer to our Quick Guide.

Domestic Violence - Victims Protection Act | Effective 1 April

The Act amends the Employment Relations Act, the Holidays Act and the Human Rights Act and introduces a new category of leave for employees affected by domestic violence, where eligible employees can take up to 10 days paid domestic violence leave in each 12-month period.

Leave can be taken regardless of how long ago the domestic violence occurred, and even if it predated employment.

To qualify for paid domestic violence leave, employees must meet the same requirements as for sick and bereavement leave - they must have been employed for a continuous period of 6 months (some employees may qualify even if their employment is not continuous).

The amendments also enable employees affected by domestic violence to seek temporary (up to 2 months) changes to their terms and conditions of employment.

For further details please refer to our Quick Guide.

Probationary & Trial Periods | Effective 6 May

The 90-day trial is no longer available for use by organisations employing 20 or more employees. However, employers and employees of any size business can agree to the inclusion of probationary periods.

Businesses with 20 or more employees can continue to use probationary periods to assess an employee’s skills against the role’s responsibilities. A probationary period lays out a fair process for managing performance issues and ending employment if the issues are not resolved.

For further details please refer to our Quick Guide.

Breaks & Infant Feeding | Effective 6 May

The structure around rest and meal breaks has been returned to the position of period-based breaks as set out pre-March 2015.

The number and duration of breaks depends on the duration of the work period from commencing to finishing work. For example, an eight-hour workday must include two paid 10-minute rest breaks and one unpaid 30-minute meal break, while a four-hour workday must include one 10-minute rest break.

For further details refer to our Quick Guide.

Unions & The Employer Relationship | Effective 6 May

The duty to conclude collective agreements is restored for collective bargaining, unless there are genuine reasons based on reasonable grounds not to. This ensures that parties genuinely attempt to reach an agreement. 

Collective agreements must provide rates of pay, along with an indication of how the rate of wages or salary payable may increase over the agreement’s term.

Paid time for union delegates undertaking union activities during work hours if;

  • they are appointed or elected as a union delegate
  • the activities related to representation of employees at work
  • the activities would not reasonably disrupt the employer’s business

Ability to make proportional pay deductions from wages for industrial action can no longer be made for partial strikes. Employers can respond to a partial strike action the same way as any other strike, which could include suspending employees without pay or a lockout.

Individual terms and the 30-day rule is reinstated. This means that for the first 30 days, new employees must be employed under terms consistent with the collective agreement.

Requirement to provide union information to new employees;

  • The union is to provide the information
  • The employer can refuse if it is confidential, or if the information is about the employer and would or is likely to mislead or deceive the prospective employee and undermine bargaining between the employer and prospective employee

Union representatives have a limited right to enter a workplace to conduct union business without employer consent. Provided the employees are covered under, or bargaining towards, a collective agreement. Union representatives can still only enter a workplace for certain purposes, must be respectful of normal operating hours, and follow health, safety and security procedures.

Employees will have protections against discrimination based on their union membership status, including either being a union member or intending to be a union member.

For further details refer to our Quick Guide.

1 July 2020 Changes

  • Paid Parental Leave increases to 26 weeks
  • Keeping in touch days increases to 64 hours



Useful Resources
To access these resources, you will need to be a member of The Chamber and signed into your account.

'At A Glance' Summary
Employment Relations Act 2018 ‘At A Glance’


Minimum Wage

Quick Guide


Domestic Violence - Victims Protection Act

Quick Guide
Victims of Domestic Violence - Sample Policy


Probationary & Trial Periods

Quick Guide

Sample Employment Agreement

Managing Poor Performance Quick Guide


Breaks & Infant Feeding

Quick Guide


Unions & the Employer Relationship

Quick Guide


Email info@cecc.org.nz or call 0800 50 50 96 to talk to our team of experts for free advice or tailored consultancy.