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2019 Law Changes Summary

A brief summary of law changes taking affect in 2019 - make sure you are up to date. For more info follow the link https://www.business.govt.nz/news/2019-law-changes/

Drop in ACC Work levies

When: From April 2019

What: Employers and people who are self-employed will on average pay 6.9 percent less for their ACC Work Account levy over the coming two years.

Why: This reduction comes after standard public consultation.

What you need to do: Nothing. If you’re a small business owner, ACC will update your levies for you.

Note that if you’re self-employed, ACC is also changing the way you’re levied. In future, the income from your tax return will be used to calculate your levy for the same year. ACC will begin talking to self-employed people about this in April 2019. 

Domestic violence leave now available

When: 1 April 2019

What: Any employee who’s been affected by domestic violence can request paid leave from their employer — up to 10 days per year. This leave is separate from annual, sick, and bereavement leave.

Why: So that people affected by domestic violence can have time to deal with the effects of that violence. These people can also request short-term flexible working arrangements.

What you need to do: Employers will need to consider the following requirements:

  • You won’t be able to discriminate against employees or job applicants because they’re victims or survivors of domestic violence.
  • You’ll need to allow employees who have been subjected to domestic violence at least 10 days of paid leave per year, and to consider flexible working arrangements.
  • It’s your responsibility to provide a safe workplace. This includes protection for people affected by domestic violence.

Changes to the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018

When: From 6 May 2019

What: The following changes to the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 come into effect:

  • Employees must be given set rest and meal breaks based on the number of hours worked, to help them work safely and productively.
  • 90-day trial periods will be limited to businesses with 19 employees or fewer.
  • Employees in specified ‘vulnerable industries’ will be able to transfer their existing terms and conditions in their employment contract if their work is restructured, regardless of the size of their employer.  
  • Parties will not have to settle a multi-employer collective agreement — they can negotiate a single-employer collective agreement to conclude bargaining.
  • For the first 30 days, new employees must be employed under terms consistent with the collective agreement.
  • Pay rates will need to be included in collective agreements.
  • Employers will need to give reasonable paid time for union delegates to carry out their union activities.
  • Employers will need to pass on information about the role and function of unions to potential employees.

Why: The Act restores protections for employees, especially vulnerable employees, and strengthens the role of collective bargaining in the workplace.

What you need to do:

 You’ll need to take the following actions to get up to date with the most recent amendments:

  • If you have employees, make sure you give them at least the minimum rest and meal breaks.
  • If you have 20 or more employees, don’t include the clause about the 90-day trial period on your new employees’ employment contracts.
  • If you’re taking over a new business in specified ‘vulnerable industries’, you’ll need to allow existing employees to transfer the current terms and conditions in their employment contract. You’ll also have to give them a minimum of 10 working days to inform you of the transfer. 

Rise in minimum wage

When: 1 April 2019

What: The new minimum wage rates, before tax, are:

  • Adult — $17.70 an hour
  • Starting-out — $14.16 an hour (up from $13.20)
  • Training — $14.16 an hour (up from $13.20)

Starting-out and training minimum wages are 80% of the adult minimum wage. 

Why: Government must by law review the minimum wage rates every year.

What you need to do:  If your employment agreements are a few years old, you can use this as a chance to update them using our Employment Agreement Builder. It’s a legal requirement to have a written employment agreement with all your staff.

Employers switch to payday filing

When: 1 April 2019

What: All employers need to switch to payday filing.

Why: To simplify tax processes.

What you need to do: If your business pays $50,000 or more a year in PAYE tax and Employer Superannuation Contribution tax, you have to file electronically from 1 April 2019. You can still file on paper if you pay less than $50,000.

Businesses should make sure they’re ready for payday filing:

  • If you’re using software, check it’s payday compatible.
  • If you’re filing through myIR, make sure you’re familiar with the Payroll account.
  • If you’re filing on paper, get used to the new forms you’ll have to fill in. You’ll have received them automatically in late March if you’re currently filing monthly employer schedules on paper.