The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 was passed late last year, introducing a number of employment law changes aimed to restore protections for employees and strengthen the role of collective bargaining in the workplace. You may be surprised to find you are already familiar with many of the changes as they turn the law back to how it was as recently as 2015.
The 90 day trial period is now restricted to businesses with less than 20 employees. This change comes into effect on 6 May 2019 and protects employees from unjustified dismissal from the day they start a job. However if you are a larger business, you can continue to use probationary periods to assess an employee’s skills and suitability, but an employee can still raise a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal if they are dismissed during the probationary period.
The requirement to provide employees with prescribed rest and meal breaks has also been restored, with the number and duration depending on the hours worked. This change is aimed to benefit workplaces by helping employees work safely and productively.
If despite your best intentions you end up in the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), the first remedy considered by the ERA will be reinstatement. However in reality this remedy is infrequently used due to most employees preferring to seek compensation rather reinstatement.
If you would like specific advice or guidance on the legislation changes, or assistance to review or update your employment agreements, please contact our Employment Team.