In 2017, New Zealand’s Labour-led government was elected on a platform that included changes to the employment law landscape.  These promised changes are beginning to filter through, resulting in a number of ‘employee-friendly’ amendments, and new legislation coming into force this year.   

Some of these changes include:

  • Restrictions on the use of 90 day trial periods;
  • Prescribed rest and meal breaks;
  • Greater trade union access to workplaces; and
  • Enhancements to the collective bargaining regime.

In addition, the Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act 2018 will come into force on 1 April 2019.  This Act enhances protection in the workplace for persons affected by domestic violence and aims to reduce the financial impact of domestic violence – enabling an employee to request flexible working arrangements and providing up to ten days’ of domestic violence leave each year. 

Paid parental leave also increased in 2018 with many employees now entitled to 22 weeks, and this will increase to 26 weeks for babies due or adopted on or after 1 July 2020.  

The government has also committed to lifting wage levels for low income earners.   The minimum wage is set to increase by NZ$1.20 to NZ$17.70 in April 2019 – the largest dollar increase in the adult minimum wage in New Zealand history. 

If you have clients doing business in New Zealand, they need to know about these changes.  Hesketh Henry can provide information and assistance as employers navigate these new waters.