As of 6 May 2019, several changes to New Zealand employment law have come into effect. Employers should take the time to understand the changes because they may impact on the way many employers run their business.
The most notable of these changes are:
- the prohibition on 90 day trial periods for employers with 20 or more employees;
- mandatory break entitlements; and
- changes to collective bargaining and interactions with unions.
From 6 May onwards, employers with 20 or more employees will not be able to utilise 90 day trial periods for new employees. Employers with more than 20 employees will instead have to revert to using probationary periods, which are essentially a truncated performance improvement plan under which an employer must provide an employee with reasonable guidance and support before terminating their employment on the basis of poor performance.
Employees' rights to minimum break entitlements have been reinstated (subject to a few specified exceptions). The minimum entitlement varies depending on the length of the employee's work period and timing for breaks is again prescribed subject to agreement being reached between the employer and employee. Employers and employees are free to negotiate more substantial break periods, but employers are required to comply with minimum standards, with penalties payable for employers who fail to do so.
A number of additional changes have been made to collective bargaining rules and in regard to interactions with unions.
We strongly encourage employers to review their employment agreements in light of the above changes to ensure they are consistent with the new rules.
Please contact anyone in our Employment Law Team for assistance with a Family Violence Leave Policy or further information on the new legislation.