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.
- 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.
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.
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.
Our employment website has more information about the changes to hours of work law(external link).