We are fast approaching New Zealand's General Election, and the nation's political parties have hit the campaign trail with their visions for the country. Changes are expected not only in the political sphere but also in employment and workplace relations.
This article discusses the political parties' campaign promises and provides an overview of some of the parties' plans for workplaces/employment law in the future, with a note that the list is not exhaustive.
The National Party's proposals are touted to help businesses and workers.
If elected into power, National will reinstate the ability for all employers, no matter the size, to utilise 90-day trial periods when hiring employees. In 2017, Labour limited the use of trial periods to businesses with 19 or fewer employees. National's leader Christopher Luxon recently stated "Yes, we will bring back 90-day trials. We think that's a good way for an employer to take on an employee - particularly when we have 55,000 more New Zealanders on unemployment benefits today at a time of record low unemployment and also lots of worker shortages".
But critics say that it will mean less stability for workers, particularly those who are already marginalised. National has also announced they would not reverse Labour's increase to sick leave or public holidays.
National is promising a change to the working holiday visa, they would increase the upper age limit of the visa from 30 to 35 for all eligible countries.
Fair Pay Agreements
Fair Pay Agreements (FPA) came into effect in 2022 and provide for unions and employer associations to bargain for minimum employment terms for all covered employees in an industry or occupation. National has confirmed that it will repeal Labour's FPA.
National says that it will modernise paid parental leave rules by giving parents more flexibility to share their leave entitlement, by taking it at the same time, one after the other or in overlapping instalments.
Labour will introduce four weeks' paid partner's leave which can be taken at the same time or after the primary carer's leave.
ACT believe that its policies will make the process of raising personal grievances more efficient and fairer for all parties involved.
Employment Relations Authority
ACT has criticised the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) as being too slow. Currently, legislation requires that the ERA must deliver a determination within three months if it has given an oral indication of its preliminary findings. ACT proposes that all ERA decisions be delivered within one month of the investigation meeting concluding. If they do not meet this requirement, the ERA member will be dismissed.
90-day Trial Period
Similar to National, ACT will reinstate the previous 90-day trial period regime.
If an employee has clearly contributed to a personal grievance ACT will remove the employee's eligibility for remedies in the ERA or the Court.
ACT will remove the primary remedy of reinstatement available to employees.
ACT will amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 to block contractors from being able to claim minimum employment entitlements and the ability to challenge their worker status in the Court or the ERA.
ACT will reverse Labour's new sick leave entitlements, reducing them from 10 days to 5 days per annum and pause minimum wage increases for three years to help businesses.
The Green Party has announced in their manifesto that:
As the election is drawing closer, the potential for shifts in employment law becomes increasingly significant. You can find more information on these policies on the parties' websites.
If you would like to discuss any of these matters further, please reach out to our Employment team:
See our Expertise pages:
© McVeagh Fleming 2023.
This article is published for general information purposes only. Legal content in this article is necessarily of a general nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require specific legal advice in respect of any legal issue, you should always engage a lawyer to provide that advice.
© McVeagh Fleming 2023.This article is published for general information purposes only. Legal content in this article is necessarily of a general nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require specific legal advice in respect of any legal issue, you should always engage a lawyer to provide that advice.