A recent law change means that it is important to update your employment agreement templates. From 13 June 2023, employees now have 12 months to raise a personal grievance for sexual harassment.
This extends the usual 90 day timeline that continues to apply to all other personal grievances. This change was brought in by the recent passing of the Extended Timeline (for Sexual Harassment) Amendment Act 2023 on 12 June 2023.
In particular, it is important to ensure that your ‘resolving employment relationship problems’ clause refers to both the 12 month timeframe for sexual harassment grievances and the 90 day timeframe for all other grievances. Not doing so could mean than an employee has grounds to raise a personal grievance for sexual harassment beyond the new 12 month time limit.
While you are making this change, it is also a great opportunity to review your current employment agreements and policies, to ensure they have incorporated other recent updates. These include:
- the extension of minimum sick leave entitlements to 10 days;
- the ability to take bereavement leave for miscarriage or still birth;
- the introduction of family violence entitlements;
- the minimum wage increase to $22.90 from April 2023;
- the inclusion of Te Rā Aro ki a Matariki/Matariki Observance Day as a public holiday; and
- the change from the Privacy Act 1993 to the Privacy Act 2020.
These changes have been in place for some time and it is important that they are accurately recorded in your employment agreements to avoid any issues or potential penalties for non-compliance.
There have been several other changes to our employment landscape over recent years which may have been missed while employers have been navigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. While these developments should not require any wholesale amendments to your documentation, it is important to be aware of them. These developments include:
- The Health and Safety at Work (Health and Safety Representatives and Committees) Amendment Act 2023: This increases workers’ access to health and safety representatives and committees, requiring businesses to initiate an election for representatives, or establish a committee where workers have requested one.
- The Protected Disclosures Act 2022: This replaces the 2000 Act and implements several key changes to the regime. This may require a review of any relevant policies.
- The Fair Pay Agreements Act 2022: This has established a new sector-wide collective bargaining mechanism with a number of applications having already been commenced.
- The Screen Industry Workers Act 2022: While limited in its application, this is an interesting development in the growing discourse around how the law can accommodate new ways of working.
- The Triangular Employment Amendment Act 2019: Which has introduced the concepts of “triangular employment” and “controlling third parties” into our governing Act. This is important to be aware of if your organisation uses agency workers or is involved in secondment arrangements with third parties.
There are also some changes on the horizon to keep in mind. These are:
- The Protection for KiwiSaver Members Amendment Bill: This was introduced on 8 June 2023 and aims to restore protection for KiwiSaver members by ensuring they cannot be discriminated against because they are members of a KiwiSaver scheme or superannuation fund.
- The Employment Relations (Restraint of Trade) Amendment Bill: This proposes to implement a wage/salary threshold for employees (three times the minimum wage) in order for a restraint of trade to have effect.
- Holidays Act: Amendments to this legislation have been anticipated for some time but have been delayed. The latest indications are that a Bill may be introduced to Parliament prior to the General Election, but that it would not be passed prior to the election. Parliament has only 27 sitting days before the election therefore it is unlikely we will see much progress on this topic in the near future.
Our employment experts are happy to assist you with updating your documentation or discussing any impacts that these changes may have on your organisation. If you need any further information or have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
This article was co-authored by Serafina Milbank, a law clerk in our Employment team.
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