Triangular Employment Relationships
This Bill proposes three main changes to the current law.
The first relates to ‘triangular employment relationships’. This is where a party which is contractually the employer, contracts the services of the employee to a third party which is, in reality, the controlling party. This most typically occurs with temping agencies. The proposed changes would allow the employee (or the employer) to apply to the Employment Relations Authority to join the controlling party to any personal grievance action. This would enable an employee to bring a dual personal grievance against both the employer and the controlling party. Ultimately, the extent of each party’s liability would be determined by the Authority on the basis of the contribution that party had made to the personal grievance.
The second change is that, when a triangular employment relationship exists, an employee working for a controlling party, must be employed on the terms and conditions of employment consistent with any collective agreement to which that controlling party is bound, if the worker joins the relevant union.
Finally, the legislation aims to simplify the process for determining who is a casual and a fixed term employee. If the status of these employees is uncertain, their status can currently only be definitively clarified by the Employment Relations Authority.
Under the Bill, the employee will be able to have a Labour Inspector determine the status of that employee’s employment. This proposed change will provide a lower cost alternative for employees to challenge the status of their employment, if they wish to. If passed, it is likely that this Bill will see an increase in claims brought by “casual” or “fixed term” employees.
The Employment Relations (Protection of Young Workers) Amendment Bill
This Bill aims to provide better protection to the rights of working children by having them covered by the requirements of the Employment Relations Act. This would mean that all children aged 15 and under would need to be employed under a written employment agreement. These young workers would have to receive the minimum wage, holiday pay (including days in lieu if they work on public holidays), sick leave and all other employment entitlements. They will also have a right to progress a personal grievance if they believe they have been dismissed unjustifiably.
Restructuring and Redundancy Issues Public Advisory Group
Finally, a Government appointed Public Advisory Group has been considering whether changes are needed in relation to how New Zealand workplaces deal with redundancies. It has recently released its report, which recommends that the Government considers a statutory requirement to pay redundancy compensation and notice. It also recommends a range of other initiatives including different tax rates for redundancy compensation.
As can be seen, whatever the make up of Government, further change is afoot. We will keep you updated as the political process unfolds!