There are several legislative changes coming up that practices should be aware of. We have updated content on the website, and our employment agreement templates are being reviewed by our legal advisers.
Domestic Violence leave
This legislation comes into effect on 1 April 2019 and gives people affected by domestic violence an additional 10 days leave per entitlement year (after the initial 6 month criteria). It also allows them to request a short term variation to their working arrangements up to two months. Requests must be dealt with in the same way as any request under the Flexible Working Arrangements legislation.
To be entitled to this leave, an employee will need to have had six months continuous employment or have worked
- at least an average of 10 hours a week over the previous six months; or
- no less than one hour in every week during that six month period, or no less than 40 hours in every month during that period.
Payment for domestic violence leave is the equivalent to the relevant daily pay for each day of leave taken by the employee. The employer will not be required to pay for leave that is covered by accident compensation.
Employers may request proof that the employee has been a victim of domestic violence if they apply for domestic violence leave.
Domestic violence leave cannot be carried year to year and there is no requirement to pay out unused balance at any time.
The minimum wage will increase to $17.70 per hour from 1 April, for adults over 16 and the starting out/training wage will increase to $14.16.
If you have employees on salary, the hourly rate must equate to at least the minimum wage.
90 day trial - 90-day trial periods will be restricted to businesses with less than 20 employees. The same rules for using trial periods will continue to apply – they are for new employees only, must be agreed in writing, and signed by the employee before they commence work. Businesses with 20 or more employees will not be able to enter into trial periods from 6th May onwards so it will be even more important to have a structured and robust recruitment process for all new employees.
Rest and meal breaks - The right to set rest and meal breaks will be restored. Employers and employees will agree when breaks are to be taken but if they cannot agree, the law will require the breaks to be in the middle of the work period, providing it’s reasonable and practicable. The number and duration of breaks depends on the hours worked. For example, an eight-hour work day must include two paid 10-minute rest breaks and one 30-minute meal break. A limited exception applies in relation to the provision of 'essential services', which may be relevant to some practices.
Collective agreements - The 30-day rule will be restored where a collective agreement applies. Many general medical practices are party to the PHC MECA and for those that are, new employees must be employed under the terms of the PHC MECA for the first 30 days. Employers will be required to pass on union (NZNO) information to prospective employees and unions must supply the employer with this information. Employers will need to provide new employees with an approved ‘Active Choice’ form within the first 10 days of employment, giving them time to talk to the union to decide whether to join a union or stay on the individual employment agreement. Employers will then need to provide the completed form to the union (or advise that the form has not been completed) within 10 working days of the end of the 30 day period.
Union delegates - Employers will need to allow union delegates reasonable paid time to undertake their union activities, like representing employees in collective bargaining. Employees will need to agree this with their employer or, at a minimum, notify them in advance. Employers can refuse only if this would unreasonably disrupt the business or the performance of the employee's duties.
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