5 law changes that business owners should know about

Date: 29th January 2016

2016 sees a number of important legislation changes come into effect, some or all of which will have implications for your small or medium business, especially if you employ staff. The changes cover workplace health and safety, ACC vehicle levies, paid parental leave, zero hour contracts and other employment standards.


1. Workplace health and safety changes – from 4 April 2016

The aim is to reduce the number of people killed or hurt at work. In New Zealand, on average 52 people die on the job each year and one in 10 is harmed. The new law says you need to do what’s “reasonably practicable” to manage health and safety risks at work. This means you’re expected to do what a reasonable person would do in your situation. It’s about taking responsibility for what you can control.

More information: Health & Safety alert!

2. ACC vehicle levy reduced – from 1 April 2016

We all used to pay the same ACC levy no matter what vehicle we owned. Last year ACC introduced a ratings system, based on how well a vehicle protected passengers and others on the road if involved in a crash. As a result, your vehicle’s levy is now based on an assessment of its risk.

Further to this, from 1April most businesses will pay lower work levies due to the residual levy being removed and an average drop in the work levy rate.

More information: ACC website

3. Paid parental leave extended – from 1 April 2016

Paid parental leave will go up from 16 weeks to 18 weeks. There are also planned changes to the scheme to better reflect the diversity of modern work and family arrangements. The changes will also make it easier for parents to stay connected to the workforce. It’s planned that parental leave payments will be extended to more workers, including:

  • casual and seasonal workers
  • those with more than one employer
  • those who have recently changed jobs
  • people who become the permanent carer of a child under the age of six, eg grandparents
  • parents of premature babies will also receive parental leave payments for longer.

More information: Business.govt.nz

4. Zero-hour contracts – from 1 April 2016

(Subject to the Employment Standards Legislation Bill being passed.)

The Government wants to prevent unfair employment practices. Zero-hour contracts make it difficult for employees to plan their financial and personal lives. Planned changes will mean that, when hiring, employers must guarantee to give employees agreed hours of work.

Also, employers won’t be allowed to:

  • expect employees to be available to work with no guarantee of hours without paying reasonable compensation
  • cancel a shift without giving employees reasonable notice or reasonable compensation, both of which must be set out in an employment agreement
  • make unreasonable deductions from wages
  • unreasonably restrict an employee’s secondary employment.

More information: Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment website

5. Enforcement of employment standards – from 1 April 2016

(Subject to the Employment Standards Legislation Bill being passed.)

Planned changes will strengthen the enforcement of minimum employment standards, eg minimum wage and holidays’ entitlements. These include a new infringement notice regime, clearer record-keeping requirements, and tougher sanctions for the most serious breaches, such as exploitation.

More information: Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment website

Read more


Health & Safety alert!

What you need to know about health and safety law changes

Posted in: Alexandra, Christchurch, Latest News, Queenstown, Wanaka