Government to get even tougher on employment standards

Geoff Bevan

March 2015 . . .Continuing a trend of toughening up on bad employers, the Government last week announced significant new measures aimed at ensuring that all employees receive their minimum entitlements. 

The changes will catch employers that:

Penalties will be tougher and owners, senior managers and advisers will now be squarely and personally in the gun.

Smaller businesses and rural employers need to pay attention

Although these changes are largely aimed at serious exploitation, all businesses (particularly small and newer companies) should take a hard look at what they are doing.  Complying with minimum standards is particularly challenging in the rural sector, where employees often work highly irregular hours, without supervision.  The potential consequences of getting this wrong will now be far more serious.

Key changes


Just when the new laws will take effect is uncertain.  Draft legislation is expected to come before Parliament in the middle of this year, but we suspect the changes won’t come into force until the first quarter of 2016, at the earliest. 

Next steps

We’ve set out an initial checklist below.  If your business has (or might have) issues then they should be sorted out as quickly as possible.   You should also seek more detailed advice once the legislation is finalised, and keep an eye out for information from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Initial Checklist

  1.  Are you paying holiday pay on non-discretionary bonus/incentive payments?
  2.  Are you paying holiday pay on the cash value of accommodation provided to staff (this requirement is  frequently ignored)?
  3. Are employees always paid time and a half when they work on a public holiday?

Rural Update:

Fortnightly Averaging: