New employment legislation on the horizon

Employment | Print Article

March 2023

There are numerous legislative changes on the horizon and employers are in for a busy year adjusting to new employment law developments.

Minimum Wage Increase

The minimum wage increase to $22.70 per hour will come into effect from 1 April 2023. The increase is in line with recent increases in inflation and the current cost of living crisis. The starting out and training minimum wage will increase to $18.16. The effect on employees is significant, with the MBIE stating around 222,900 people are paid between $21.20 and $22.70.

There are concerns as to the effect on small businesses, with the 7% wage increase on top of previous increases which will mean higher wage costs to the business.

Despite no legal requirement to provide a pay rise to those already on $22.70, this minimum wage increase may give rise to pay inconsistencies for more experienced employees. If not already in the pipeline, it is a good time to create a strategy for managing pay relativity.

Holidays Act Changes

Although unclear when, changes to the Holidays Act are coming. The changes will introduce more transparency and clarity in determining aspects such as leave.

Annual Leave Payments (ALP) have previously been calculated at ordinary weekly pay or the average weekly earnings over the previous 12 months. A new calculation is proposed so that the ALP can also be paid at the weekly earnings over the last 13 weeks. This is likely to have the most effect on commission-based employment, as their earnings fluctuate and thus are more likely to be affected by this new calculation.

Time frames on leave entitlement are soon to be changed. Employees will be entitled to sick leave on their first day of employment instead of waiting 6 months. Similarly, leave entitlement will change to a pro rata basis, meaning an employee will be entitled to 2 weeks’ leave after 6 months of employment.

Parental leave will no longer affect ALP when an employee returns to work. Previously, an employee who returned from parental leave received a reduced ALP for 12 months following their return to work. However, under the proposed changes the returning employee will receive their full rate for annual leave.

The Employment Relations (Extended Time for Personal Grievance for Sexual Harassment) Amendment Bill

The Bill extends the time a person has to raise a personal grievance involving sexual harassment from 90 days to 12 months, to acknowledge that victims of sexual harassment may require more than 90 days to feel comfortable making a complaint. The 90-day rule does not reflect the way sexual harassment occurs in practice, and this extension will allow complex and difficult sexual harassment matters to be dealt with more effectively. Employers need to be aware of situations where a personal grievance involves allegations of sexual harassment alongside other allegations. Furthermore, some have expressed disappointment that the Bill does not include workplace bullying or discrimination.

If you require any further information or clarification about upcoming legislation and how they may affect your business contact your lawyer.