Labour looks to implement employee friendly laws post 2020 election

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With less than a month to go until election night, policies are being revealed at an ever-increasing rate. While the COVID-19 response packages have grabbed the headlines, Labour has proceeded to deliver a suite of policies targeted at assisting and energising their traditional base.

If Labour does succeed – be it alone or with the Greens, they are promising to:

  • Double workers’ sick leave entitlement from five to 10 days
  • Increase the minimum wage beyond the scheduled increase to NZ$20 next year
  • Raise the age for workers to be allowed to perform hazardous work from 15 to 16
  • Legislate protections for dependent contractors
  • Strengthen the Employment Relations Act to make it harder for collective agreements to be undermined
  • Legislate for and implement Fair Pay Agreements
  • Improve transparency for pay across genders and ethnicity
  • Simplify the Holidays Act, including in relation to the calculation of holiday pay, the ability of employees to choose when to take sick and annual leave, and to provide for holiday accrual from the start of employment (rather than after the first year).

Employers and employees alike might welcome a simplified holiday framework, but the other changes are wholeheartedly focused on demonstrating Labour’s commitment to improving conditions for workers.

National argues that these policies will be damaging to business, particularly as they are already struggling under the weight of a recession. Unsurprisingly this sentiment was echoed by the leader of the ACT party, with David Seymour saying Labour "isn't just cutting open the golden goose, they're wringing its neck (small businesses)”. Perhaps these policies will not have a great effect on the result of the election, but they will have a significant impact on both employers and employees if they come to fruition.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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