Significant changes ahead for employment law

The Employment Relations Amendment Bill passed its third reading on Wednesday and will reverse a lot of the changes introduced by the National Government. Below are the key impending changes all employers and employees need to know about.

  • The use of 90 day trial periods will be limited to employers with fewer than 20 employees. Employers over this threshold and currently using 90 day trial periods will need to review and modify their employment agreements before the Bill comes into force.
  • Prescribed rest and meal breaks will be restored. Currently there is no prescribed time and length of rest and meal breaks and the new change will mean an eight hour shift must include two 10 minute rest breaks and one 30 minute meal break. However, there are some exceptions, such as companies providing essential services.
  • Reinstatement will be restored as a primary remedy for employees that successfully raise an unjustified dismissal claim.
  • Small employers with 19 or fewer employees will no longer be exempt from providing the protections afforded to vulnerable employees such as cleaners and caterers and those who are deemed to be at a greater risk of losing their job due to a restructuring. All vulnerable employees will now be able to elect to transfer to the new employer on the same terms and conditions.
  • Union and collective bargaining rights will be strengthened with the changes aimed at restoring union rights in the workplace. Of the number of changes, union representatives will have better access to the workplace and the duty for businesses to conclude single-employer collective bargaining will be restored.

The majority of the provisions in the Bill do not come into force until 6 May 2019, but please do not hesitate to contact our employment team before this date with any queries relating to the impending changes and how to comply.