Employment Standards Legislation Act

The Employment Standards Legislation Act aims to encourage fair and productive workplaces and ensure employment law responds to a dynamic business environment.

The Act came into force on 1 April 2016. The main changes to employment law it introduced included:

  • modernising parental leave
  • strengthening enforcement of employment standards
  • addressing zero-hour contracts.

Modernising parental leave

These changes aim to better reflect current work and family arrangements, provide more flexibility and choice, and support parents’ attachment to work.

They include:

  • extending parental leave payments to non-standard workers and those who have recently changed jobs
  • extending entitlements to a wider group of primary carers than just biological and formal adoptive parents
  • enabling workers to take unpaid parental leave flexibly
  • introducing “Keeping in Touch” hours in the paid leave period
  • extending unpaid leave to workers who have been with their employer for more than six months but less than 12
  • allowing workers to resign and still receive payments
  • increasing the penalty for fraud
  • providing additional parental leave payments for parents of preterm babies.

More information

Our employment website has the most up-to-date information about parental leave(external link) including eligibility, payments and returning to work.

Strengthening enforcement of employment standards

Employment standards are requirements such as the minimum wage, annual holidays and written employment agreements. They protect vulnerable workers and help to ensure workplaces are fair and competitive.

The measures came into force on 1 April 2016. They target the worst transgressions of employers without imposing unnecessary compliance costs on employers in general. They include:

  • tougher sanctions for employers and officers responsible for breaches of employment standards
  • clearer-record keeping requirements
  • increased tools for labour inspectors
  • changes to the Employment Relations Authority’s approach to employment standards cases.

More information

Our employment website has information about keeping accurate records(external link).

Addressing zero-hour contracts

The changes to hours of work law aim to retain flexibility where it is desired by both employers and employees. They also aim to increase certainty by ensuring that both the employer and the employee are clear about the mutual commitments they have made.

This means that where the employer and employee agree to a set number of hours they are required to state those hours in the employment agreement.

More information

Changes to hours of work law(external link) — Employment New Zealand

Key documents for changes to employment legislation

Strengthening enforcement of Employment Standards [PDF, 168 KB]

Addressing zero hours contracts and other practices [PDF, 79 KB]

Modernising parental leave [PDF, 158 KB]

Parental leave for parents of preterm babies [PDF, 71 KB]

Employment Standards Legislation Bill – further policy decisions [PDF, 61 KB]

Employment Standards Legislation Bill – supplementary order paper [PDF, 32 KB]

Employment Standards Legislation Bill – accompanying regulations [PDF, 65 KB]

Strengthening enforcement of employment standards regulatory impact statement [PDF, 507 KB]

Addressing zero hours contracts and other practices regulatory impact statement [PDF, 445 KB]

Modernising parental leave regulatory impact statement [PDF, 214 KB]