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Employment Law Update

Recently Legislation Taking Effect

Minimum wage

As of 1st April, the minimum wage has increased to $15.75 per hour for employees over 16 and to $12.60 for employees starting out or in training.

Employment Relations Act Amendments

The changes introduced in 2015 are now mandatory for all employment agreements, meaning existing contracts need to be updated. Key points include:

  • Restrictions on Zero Hour Contracts: employers must provide guaranteed minimum hours or include an availability provision
  • Justification for Exclusivity Provisions: agreements prohibiting secondary employment bust expressly provide reasons
  • Shift Cancellation Requirements: reasonable notice or compensation is needed from the employer and this must be specified in the employment agreement

BuckettLaw can provide template contracts that are fully updated to comply with these changes or to revise existing agreements, get in touch if we can help.

Immigration Amendments

With immigration, already a hot topic the government has proposed some changes ahead of the November election that affect anyone employing overseas workers.

Highly skilled visas will only be available for jobs earning over the median wage of $49,000. In addition, workers on temporary visas will be subject to a three-year limit followed by a stand-down period.

What Next?

Employment Relations (Allowing Higher Earners to Contact Out of Personal Grievance Provisions) Amendment Bill

Under this bill employees earning over $150,000pa will be able to contract out of their rights under the Employment Relations Act, specifically the personal grievance provisions.

The intention is to leave highly-paid executives to conduct their own bargaining. However, this exposes employers to other claims, such as breach of contract or wrongful dismissal, which are otherwise excluded under the ERA.

Domestic Violence - Victims' Protection Bill

This bill places specific requirements on employers on how to deal with domestic violence in the workplace.

Domestic violence will be defined as a hazard under the Health and Safety at Work Act meaning that employers need to have a policy in place not only to assist employees who may be victims, but any alleged offenders as well.

Any employee who can prove they are a victim (or the immediate family of a victim) will also be entitled to 10 days leave annually and can apply for flexible working arrangements.

Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill

Following the recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity and the recent Terranova case this bill introduces a claims process.

Any employee can bring a claim for equal pay, pay equity, or non-remuneration gender discrimination.

Employers can then enter into a bargaining process governed by the Employment Relations Act principles and have resort to existing employment relations dispute processes if bargaining reaches an impasse.

Something else to look out for is litigation around the distinction between employees and contractors following on from the Uber cases in the UK last year.

How We Can Help

The last two years have been a period of significant change in employment law and employers can expect further new proposals ahead of the election. BuckettLaw is available to advise you or your business on how best to navigate these changes.

This article is written as a general update for clients and is not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice and should not be relied upon as such.

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