As the government makes decisions and brings in new rules, there are a number of changes that are either here already or coming soon that businesses need to be across. Like ‘em or not, the truth is, they’re here – as a business the key is to understand, adapt and act on them. We thought we’d help with the ‘understand’ bit here...
Minimum Wage increase
We thought we’d start with this one – because it’s the simplest to understand. From 1 April, the adult minimum wage increased from $20.00 to $21.20 per hour. Aligned with this change, the starting out and training minimum wage has increased from $16.00 to $16.96 per hour.
This link from Employment NZ has useful information, and of course, we’re happy to help if you have any questions.
Changes to Vaccine Mandates – What Does it Mean for Your Business?
From Monday 4 April, Covid-19 vaccine mandates will be scrapped for many workers around NZ. We’ve already been fielding a range of questions from businesses including:
- Can I still choose to have a vaccine mandate in place for my business?
- If so, is the current one okay, or do I now need to do something different?
- Can I still make it mandatory for any new team members to be vaccinated?
- Do I have to reinstate a team member(s) who lost their job as a result of the vaccination mandate that was in place?
We’d love to appear to be the ‘font of all knowledge’ here, but the truth is, there’s no point in re-inventing the wheel, and it’s really important that all businesses are reviewing and considering the most up to date government information…so we’ll point you instead. The Employment NZ website has a great page that outlines what these changes means for businesses, and answers all of these questions (and more).
Reopening the New Zealand Border
Steps 1 & 2 of the government’s five phase plan fundamentally mean that New Zealand citizens and residents can now return to NZ without the need to isolate. And from 11.59pm, Tuesday 12 April 2022, Step 3 means that the border will reopen to:
- Current offshore temporary visa holders who can still meet their relevant visa requirements;
- Current onshore temporary visa holders who leave and return, if they meet travel conditions;
- Further class exceptions for critical workforces that do not meet the 1.5 times median wage criteria
- One of the class exceptions is for dairy farm workers – assistants, herd managers and farm managers. You can apply for this via DairyNZ; there is an excellent page on their website with details around criteria, process, information that needs to be supplied, timing etc
Fair Pay Agreements
The government has introduced Fair Pay Agreement Bill into parliament. This was a key election pledge for Labour and is finally in front of us. The intention is for the legislation to pass into law by November so there isn’t much time for us to have our say. Of particular concern within the proposed legislation is:
- The potentially low threshold for the initiation of bargaining
- The bargaining support payments suggested in the bill
- The Employment Relations Authority role in setting Fair Pay Agreement Terms if bargaining reaches a stalemate or if ratification fails
More information about the objectives and process that surrounds the Fair Pay process can be foundhttps://www.mbie.govt.nz/dmsdocument/14294-the-proposed-fair-pay-agreement-system-pdf but in short, the fair pay agreement system is the biggest shake-up in the employment legislative framework in a decade or more and the first sectors targeted will undoubtedly be in for some unrest as well as setting the tone for future agreements.
FPA’s will also have a knock on impact to other sectors, as they will likely effectively set a ‘new minimum’ for employment standards.