Significant change has arrived (May 2019)

As you may have heard, Parliament has been busy on the employment law front.  In this update, we summarise the main changes you should to be aware of:

Employment Relations Act:

  • 90 day trial periods: as of 6 May 2019, these can only be used by employers with 19 or fewer employees. Probationary periods (which are not the same thing) are still available
  • Set rest and meal breaks are again required (with very limited exceptions)
  • Reinstatement is again the primary remedy in unjustified dismissal cases
  • Collective agreements and bargaining – the changes include:
    • There is a new code of good faith for collective bargaining
    • A modified version of the 30-day rule is back
    • There are new employer obligations (and a new required form) regarding providing information to employees and unions
    • A collective agreement needs to be concluded unless there is a genuine reason based on reasonable grounds not to, and an employer cannot opt out of MECA bargaining as of right
    • Pay rates now needs to be included in a collective agreement
    • There are changes in relation to strikes and lockouts
    • Union representatives no longer need employer consent to enter a workplace
    • Union delegates are allowed reasonable time during working hours to perform union-related duties
  • Part 6A changes: all vulnerable employees (e.g. cleaning staff) can again elect to transfer on the same terms and conditions, as the previous 19 or fewer exemption has been removed

Minimum Wage Act: The adult minimum wage has increased to $17.70 (gross) per hour, and other minimum rates have also increased

Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act: Affected employees are now entitled to take Domestic Violence Leave and to request temporary changes to their terms and conditions of employment

Employment Relations Infringement Regulations: Employers can now be fined $1,000 for failing to have a written employment agreement (as well as still being liable for ER Act penalties)

For advice from our employment law specialists on any of the issues covered above, either call us on 04 801 5427, or contact us via email:

Paul McBride (Partner) –
Guido Ballara (Partner) –
Frances Lear (Senior Associate) –
Saadi Radcliffe (Solicitor) –

Disclaimer – this newsletter is necessarily brief and general in nature. You should therefore seek professional legal advice before taking any action in relation to any matter addressed above.  © McBride Davenport James

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