2020 promises to be an interesting year from an employee relations perspective for New Zealand businesses.
In September our country goes to the polls to elect a new government. Whether that will see a return of the current Labour - New Zealand First - Greens Government or a different flavour, one thing is certain. The employment relations landscape will continue to change for New Zealand.
The current Labour - New Zealand First - Greens Government will continue with the changes it proposed at the start of its term. This will see us hearing and learning more about the proposed Fair Pay Agreements. Australia already has these in place, and under the current government's agenda a form of Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs) is set to be introduced in New Zealand. Businesses, regardless of size, should be prepared to get involved in the consultation process and have their say in these FPAs.
FPAs will set a new framework for negotiating that includes setting the minimum pay levels for employees across an entire sector of industry.
Another focus for the current Government is strengthening protections for migrant workers. New Zealand still sees too much exploitation of migrants, with unscrupulous employers benefiting from denying migrant workers their full rights under New Zealand employment legislation. Expect to see and hear about better safeguards are likely to be put in place to provide better protection against the exploitation of migrants.
Last year, the Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Bill was passed into law and will come into force in June this year. This amendment to the Employment Relations Act 2000 means that if you engage employees employed by another employer, but they will be working under the control and direction of your organisation, those employees will have the right to coverage of your collective agreement. More importantly, and to ensure that such employees are not subject to any detriment in their right to allege a personal grievance, even though they might be covered by a Collective Agreement with another employer, they will now also have the right to bring a personal grievance against both you and their employer. Read more here.
The current review of the Holidays Act 2003 is continuing, and we expect no matter who is governing New Zealand post the September elections, that the Government is likely to support changes to this complex piece of legislation. The question will be whether any changes to the Holidays Act 2003 will be sufficient to take the complexity and confusion out of calculating entitlements to leave and pay.
Finally, should the September elections result in a National led Government, we can expect to see some of the changes implemented by the Labour - New Zealand First - Greens Government peeled back.