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21 December 2018

Employment Law Changes: Are you Ready?

Will your employment agreements cut the mustard in 2019? Quick guide to the key changes you need to know.

The much mooted Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 came into force on 12 December 2018. The following is a summary of the key changes that will affect you.

From 6 May 2019 90 day trial periods will only be available to businesses with fewer than 20 employees. If you have 20 or more employees, you cannot include a 90 day trial period provision in your employment agreements. You may include a probationary period, to enable time to assess an employee’s suitability, but you will need to follow the usual fair process for managing performance issues or ending employment. An employee is not prevented from raising a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal if they are dismissed under a probationary period.

Rest and meal breaks will be taken at set times from 6 May 2019 and employee entitlements will be prescribed. If your employee works an eight hour day, they will be entitled to two 10 minute paid rest breaks (morning and afternoon) and one half hour unpaid meal break. These breaks will need to be taken at agreed times or at times set by the Act.

Powers and freedoms of unions and collective bargaining have been strengthened. If you deal with unions and collective bargaining in your industry then we can advise you on the host of changes that are afoot in this area including the power for union delegates to enter your workplace without seeking consent and rules around collective bargaining.

Rights of “vulnerable employees” will be expanded from 6 May 2019. If you have employees providing cleaning, catering, care-taking or laundry services you may need to be aware of changes affecting these employees going through a restructuring process.

Reinstatement is the first remedy the Employment Relations Authority will consider where an employee is found to have been unjustifiably dismissed. This change is effective from 12 December 2018.

Christmas Bonus: A little Christmas cheer for those employees on minimum wage and time to start saving for employers! The government has just announced that the minimum wage will be increasing to $17.70 per hour from 1 April 2019.

The above information is of a general nature only. You should contact our firm for advice relating to your specific circumstances.

Vanessa Baakman

About Vanessa Baakman

Vanessa is a senior solicitor in our Litigation team and specialises in employment and family law.

View all posts by Vanessa Baakman