A Labour-led government means we will see a number of
changes to the employment law landscape. Some of their policies
likely to affect you include:
Changes to minimum employment rights
- Minimum wage will increase to $16.50 per hour from 1
- The length of paid parental leave will increase from 18
to 26 weeks from 1 July 2018.
- 90-day trial periods will be altered, so employers must
give reasons for dismissal, and disputes on trial period dismissals
heard within 3 weeks.
- The requirement for rest and meal breaks to be taken at
specified time will be restored.
- Reinstatement will again be the primary remedy for
unjustified dismissal claims.
- Protection for vulnerable workers where there is a sale
or transfer of business will be enhanced.
- Consultation on minimum redundancy compensation will
- The number of Labour Inspectors is to increase from 55 to
110 over the next three years.
- A new legislative system of industry and sector
collective bargaining to create Fair Pay Agreements that set
- New workers will again be employed on the same terms and
conditions as provided by an existing collective agreement covering
their workplace for the first 30 days.
- Employers' ability to deduct pay from workers on partial
strike will be removed.
- Introduce legal rights for "dependent contractors" who
are effectively under the control of an employer, but who do not
receive the same protection as employees.
- Extend the right to organise and bargain collectively to
contractors who primarily sell their labour.
Some of these changes, such as increasing the minimum wage
and extending paid parental leave have been well-signalled.
However, others, such as the proposals relating to independent
contractors have the potential to fundamentally change the way some
A third area that could dramatically affect the relationship
between employers and employees is the proposal to introduce Fair
Pay Agreements, which harks back to the system of national
industrial awards that was scrapped in 1990. Negotiations in
an industry would begin once a sufficient percentage of employers
or employees called for a Fair Pay Agreement. An agreement
would not be implemented until the majority of workers in an
industry decided to support it.
Whether these proposals are implemented, and to what degree,
remains to be seen. Many of them, such as Fair Pay
Agreements, will require considerable planning and legislative
drafting to produce a workable process, so for now it is business
as usual. We will keep you updated on these and other changes
as they progress through parliament.
In the meantime, if you would like any advice on employment law
issues, please contact
our team today.