Employment law changes: are you up-to-date?

February 04 2016

As noted in a previous post, the government has introduced the Employment Standards Legislation Bill to Parliament. The Bill is working its way through the House, and is scheduled to become law on Friday, 1 April 2016. The legislation introduces important amendments to employment law; we’ve picked out two highlights:

  • Zero hours contracts. The Bill addresses widespread concerns with zero hours contracts. The current position is that a zero hours contract contains a provision that your employee is required to be available to accept any work offered, but you as the employer have no obligation to offer work to your employee. The Bill makes such a provision unenforceable, unless the contract also provides for the payment of compensation to your employee for being available for work.

  • Parental leave. The Bill includes significant amendments to the parental leave regime. Broadly, a wider range of employees will benefit. Employees will now be able to resign yet still receive parental leave payments (incidentally the maximum entitlement to parental leave pay will increase from 16 weeks to 18 weeks from 1 April 2016) and the threshold for benefitting from unpaid leave will change.

The Select Committee is expected to release its report on the Bill on 12 February 2016 (which will be helpful because there are a few gaps in the current wording). This will not leave you long to make any required changes to your employment practices; so keep an eye on developments over the coming weeks so you can act quickly before the proposals become law.

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