August 03 2015
In March 2015, the government announced a package of measures designed to strengthen the enforcement of minimum employment standards. These will be reflected in the Employment Standards Bill that will be introduced into Parliament later this year. Its indicated measures will include: tougher sanctions, clearer record keeping requirements, increased tools for labour inspectors, and changes to the Employment Relations Authority’s approach to employment standards cases.
In July the government announced additional measures to be included in the Bill, in particular guidelines will be set around zero hours employment agreements.
Currently there’s no legal definition or prohibition on entering into a zero hours employment agreement. However, in general, a zero hours employment agreement has no guarantee of work and no minimum hours of work. In contrast to a casual employment agreement, under a zero hours employment agreement an employee agrees to be available to work when required by their employer.
The Bill proposes to retain the flexibility of a zero hours employment agreement (where desired by both employer and employee) but increase certainty so that both parties are aware of the commitments they have made when the employment relationship begins.
Specifically, the Bill proposes to prohibit employers:
- Not committing any hours of work, but expecting their employee to be available at all times
- Cancelling a shift without reasonable notice or compensation to their employee
- Putting unreasonable restrictions on secondary employment, and
- Making unreasonable deductions from an employee’s wages.