As small business owners in New Zealand, it’s important to stay informed about the potential employment and industrial relations changes on the horizon. Here’s a summary of key employment policy proposals from the major political parties.
In the first 100 days, the National Party plans to halt progress on Labour’s proposed Income Insurance Scheme, reinstate 90-day trial periods for all employers, and abolish Fair Pay Agreements. They are also proposing to amend parental leave laws to allow both parents to take Government-paid parental leave simultaneously, double the cap on seasonal workers to 38,000, exempt businesses earning less than $60,000 from GST, and expand working holiday visas for sectors facing worker shortages.
The ACT Party also supports the reintroduction of 90-day trial periods for all employers. They also propose amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 as follows: prevent contractors from challenging their employment status, limit the availability of reinstatement as a personal grievance remedy, and speed up the personal grievance. They are also proposing that the 2 January public holiday be removed.
New Zealand First has stated they want to examine the feasibility of lifting the adult Minimum Wage to at least $25 an hour by allowing businesses a tax concession. They also want to remove the Accredited Employer Worker Visa and replace it with a Skills Shortage Visa and Labour Shortage Visa.
So, what does this mean for you? While these are proposals at this stage and may be subject to change as the parties negotiate a supply and confidence arrangement to take power, there are some common areas of agreement.
It is likely that we will see a blend of these proposals in the coming years but the most likely areas for change are the reintroduction of the 90-day trial period for all employers and the abolition of the Fair Pay Agreements system.
We will keep you up to date with any changes and will ensure your documents and agreements reflect any legal shifts.
Source: Service, G, and Richards, M, Is New Zealand’s employment law landscape set to change?, HRD Magazine, 28 October 2023, Link
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