In October 2017, a new coalition Government led by the Labour Party was sworn in. The new Government signaled that it intends to make some significant changes to employment law. The following changes have been confirmed:
- the minimum wage is to increase to $16.50 an hour on 1 April 2018. The Government has stated that the minimum wage will increase to $20 an hour by 2020; and
- paid parental leave is to increase to 22 weeks for parents with babies due on or after 1 July 2018. This will progressively increase to 26 weeks by July 2020.
A number of other changes are also proposed, these include:
- removing the trial period provisions introduced by the National-led Government in 2009. These provisions allow employers to dismiss employees without justifiable cause within the first 90 days of employment. A new trial period regime will be introduced that allows such employees to have recourse to a referee service which will hear these disputes;
- introducing Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs). FPAs are designed to set basic standards of pay and other conditions within an industry including allowances, weekend/night rates and leave entitlements; and
- introducing statutory support and legal rights for “dependent contractors”.