EMPLOYMENT LAW CHANGES - ARE YOU READY?

POSTED BY Duncan Coats
12 February 2015

posted in Business | Employment | Employment Relations Authority | Health and Safety

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With 2014 well and truly behind us, it’s time to focus on how the employment law landscape will develop in 2015.  First up for consideration are the amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA) which apply from 6 March 2015. A summary of the main changes includes the following:

  • Flexible working: from day one of employment, any employee may make a flexible working request.
    This is a significant departure from the current position which requires an employee to have at least 6 months’ service before making a flexible working request and to demonstrate that they have care responsibilities towards another person.
    Further changes mean that there will be no limit on the number of requests an employee can make each year and employers will need to respond to a flexible working request within 1 month of receiving it.
  • Rest and meal breaks: rather than rest and meal break entitlements being determined by reference to the hours worked by an employee, the amendments simply require employers to provide their employees with a "reasonable opportunity” for "rest, refreshment and attention to personal matters”. Also, the obligation to provide breaks will not have to be met where employers cannot reasonably do so, having regard to the nature of the employee's work (for example, an air traffic controller). If breaks cannot be provided, then they can be replaced with reasonable “compensatory measures” (e.g. a later start or finish time).
  • Restructuring situations and “vulnerable workers”: changes to Part 6A of the ERA include:
    • an exemption for incoming employers who have 19 or fewer employees from the requirement to take on employees affected by the work changing hands;
    • amendments to the exchange of employment related information between the outgoing and incoming employer;
    • a process for dealing with the apportionment of transferring employees’ accrued service-related entitlements.
  • Good faith: the amendments to good faith provisions state what an employer has to provide to an employee where a proposed action will (or is likely to) adversely affect an employee’s employment. An employer has to give an affected employee information about themselves. An employer does not have to provide:
    • confidential information about another person to the affected employee if that involves any unwarranted disclosure of the affairs of that person;
    • information that is subject to statutory confidentiality requirements; or
    • information where there is good reason for not doing so (e.g. to protect an employer’s commercial position).
  • Employment Relations Authority: at the end of an investigation meeting members will need to give an oral determination (and a written record of that determination within 1 month), or an oral indication of its preliminary findings (and, unless extra evidence is needed, provide a written determination with 3 months of the investigation meeting).
  • Collective bargaining: the key amendments to the collective bargaining regime include:
    • empowering the Employment Relations Authority with the ability to declare the end for collective bargaining in certain circumstances;
    • giving employers the ability to opt-out of multi-employer bargaining;
    • allowing proportionate pay reductions in cases of partial strike action;
    • requiring advanced written notice of proposed strikes and lockouts; and
    • removing the current requirement for non-union members to be employed under the terms and conditions of a collective agreement (where one is in force which covers their work) for the first 30 days of employment.
A copy of the legislation introducing the changes can be found here.

POSTED BY Duncan Coats
12 February 2015

posted in BusinessEmploymentEmployment Relations AuthorityHealth and Safety

VIEWED 4836 TIMES

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