The Government has recently announced its intention to make some significant changes to The Employment Relations Act and The Holidays Act.
An outline in summary is:-
- At present the Employment Relations Act requires the parties in bargaining to “conclude” an agreement. The obligation is to be removed.
- The “30-day Rule” is also to be removed, meaning that employers will be able to offer all new employees whatever terms are agreed, and unrelated to any collective agreement provisions that may apply.
- Employers will be able to reduce the pay of employees who are parties to a partial strike.
- All strikes and lockouts will now be predicated by the obligation to provide an advanced written notice.
- Any employer will be able to opt out of a multi-employer collective agreement.
Flexible Working Arrangements
- There are to be some changes, which extend to all employees the right to request flexible working arrangements.
Rest and Meal Breaks
- There are to be changes whereby the parties can negotiate break times to provide for greater flexibility.
Vulnerable Workers, Continuity of Employment Part 6A
Clients will be aware that we have been involved in a number of leading cases, some of which are still pending in the Employment Court and Court of Appeal regarding the various complications that arise out of Part 6A. Unfortunately the Government’s proposal to date, unless they are changed, do not address some of the fundamental issues of concern, including defining who is and who is not a “vulnerable employee” and consequently who can and cannot make an “election” to transfer to a new employer.
There are two significant proposals:-
- Incoming employers with 19 or fewer employees will be exempt. This will have the effect of fundamentally changing the commercial landscape in this area.
- There is to be a new provision whereby the “old employer” cannot artificially inflate the commercial purposes, entitlements, leave balances, etc., for the purposes of transfer. This has been a feature of some of the recent matters before the Employment Court, High Court, and shortly in the Court of Appeal.
Provision of Information
The Government is proposing to restrict the amount of information that an employer has to provide in relation to redundancy dismissals, vis-à-vis, other employees. This perceived problem arises as a result of “Vice Chancellor of Massey University v Wrigley  ERNZ 138”.
Employment Relations Authority
There are to be some changes to the way the Employment Relations Authority manages its investigations and determinations.