April 2016 – Benefit, health & safety and employment changes
Changes from April
The minimum wage will increase from $14.75 to $15.25 per hour. Training and new entrants’ minimum wages will increase from $11.80 to $12.20 per hour.
Health and safety
Changes to health and safety laws take effect from 4 April 2016. The new law says you need to take reasonably practical steps to manage any critical risks – those that could cause illness or injury serious enough to keep someone off work. Have you assessed how the new laws affect your business and implemented anything you need to? If not, contact us for more information on the rules.
The Employment Standards Legislation Bill has been passed, bringing into effect from 1 April 2016 some important changes to the employment statutes. These include extending parental leave, spearing zero hour contracts and strengthening compliance with minimum employment standards.
Parental leave: A greater range of people — for example, certain casual workers and seasonal workers, employees with more than one employer and those that have recently changed jobs — will have the opportunity to access paid parental leave, which is up to 18 weeks from 1 April onwards. The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act will also extend to a wider range of primary carers than biological or formal adoptive parents.
Employees on paid leave will be able to take ‘keeping-in-touch’ days, enabling them to work limited hours during their paid leave period.
Zero hours contracts and other restrictions: Employers won’t be able to:
- expect employees to be available to work without guaranteeing hours or paying reasonable compensation
- cancel a shift without giving employees reasonable notice and 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
Enforcing minimum employment standards: Focused on ensuring employers pay at least minimum wage and give employees their proper holiday entitlements. Enforcement measures include a new infringement notice regime, clearer record-keeping requirements, and tougher sanctions for serious breaches such as exploitation.
Check employment records are comprehensive and employment agreements comply with the standards.
Super, pensions and benefits
Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension rates increase on 1 April 2016. The rates (before tax) for a married couple will be $671.48, $443.43 a week for a single person living alone and $407.53 for a single person sharing accommodation.
Benefits for main beneficiaries and rates for student allowance recipients with dependent children will increase by $25 a week after tax.
Working for Families rates will increase for low income working families by up to $12.50 and $24.50 for very low income working families.
Don’t be caught out on holiday pay!
Holiday pay has been in the news recently and we know the Labour Inspectors from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will be checking that other employers have been recording and paying entitlements correctly.
There are two ways of calculating holiday pay: it can be based on ordinary weekly pay at the beginning of the holiday or average weekly earnings over the previous 12 months. The correct amount of holiday pay is whichever figure is the greater.
Where employees are permanently employed on a constant work pattern, working out their entitlement is easy. If you have employees working irregular hours, it can be tricky to ensure their entitlements are correct. It is vital to make sure your systems are set up to record all relevant information and that your payroll system uses correct formulas and definitions. Call us if you would like more information about this.