From 1 April 2011, all employers may offer a 90 day trial period for new employees. Prior to this, employers having fewer than 20 employees could employ people under this trial period.
The Employment Relations Amendment Bill (No 2) 2010 and Holidays Amendment Bill 2010 were passed in Parliament on 20 November 2010. This in effect means that the following key changes apply from 1 April 2011 to the Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA) and the Holidays Act 2003:
- reinstatement will no longer be a ("primary") remedy;
- rules on union access to workplaces has changed so that any access will require consent of any employer, which consent cannot be unreasonably withheld;
- with the employer and the employee's agreement, employees will be able to trade one of their four weeks' annual leave for cash;
- employers and employees will also be able to agree to transfer the observance of public holidays to another working day;
- a new formula of "Average Daily Pay" will be used to calculate leave entitlements;
- employers will not need to have reasonable grounds to suspect that sick leave taken by employees for three consecutive days or more, for non-genuine reasons, to ask for medical reports. However, employers will be required to cover the employees' costs in obtaining the reports.
Immigration rules pertaining to employment have also changed
The new Immigration Act 2009 has been in force since 29 November 2010.
Under the Act, employers are not obliged to check any potential employees entitlement to work in New Zealand.
However, if an employer does not carry out this check and a person is disentitled to work, the employer could be prosecuted under the Act. Section 350 states that it is an offence for an employer to allow a non-New Zealand citizen who is disentitled to work for an employer, to work. An offence can attract a fine of up to $10,000.00.
The maximum penalty for allowing or continuing to allow any person to work for an employer knowing that the person is not entitled to do that work, is a fine of $50,000.00.
To help employers meet their obligations under this Act, Immigration New Zealand has introduced a free online immigration service called "VisaView". This allows employers to check online to verify if job applicants are entitled to work in New Zealand.
If you need assistance with any employment issues, please contact DG Law on 09 574 5316