Most people prefer not to argue, but disputes and conflicts in the workplace are unfortunately common and can be damaging to both individuals and organisations. In some cases, managers or human resources teams may be required to know how to investigate an allegation against a staff member or manager.

Here, we outline the types of workplace conflict which can require investigation, and what to consider when starting an investigation.

Types of conflict which may require a workplace investigation

Conflict can stem from a wide range of situations in the workplace. However, some common types of workplace conflict include:

  1. Allegations of bullying
  2. Allegations of sexual harassment
  3. Claims of inappropriate management action.

Undertaking a preliminary investigation

The first step in undertaking a workplace investigation is to determine the origins of the conflict, or undertake a preliminary investigation. To start with, find out when the conflict started and how it began. This will offer greater understanding and allow you to raise points from both sides to obtain as much information as possible.

Speak to everyone involved individually and privately, allowing each party enough time to air their views and opinions on the situation – honest communication is key here. Make sure clear ground rules are set and followed and keep the conversation calm and professional, keeping an open mind as you engage with the various parties.

At the information gathering and preliminary investigation stage, seek any documents or communications referred to as part of this process to assist and inform your next steps.

Formal investigations into workplace conflict

A preliminary investigation may identify a way forward, but typically, you will uncover more issues of concern than you will solutions to problems.

The below should be the basic steps of a formal investigation:

  1. Establish terms of reference for the investigation (TOR). This generally clarifies the scope and the aim of the investigation and sets out how the investigation will be conducted by the investigator.
  2. Interview the parties and any nominated witnesses if applicable.
  3. Provide a draft report for feedback on factual accuracy, generally provided to the complainant (person making the complaint) and respondent (person being complained about).
  4. Consider any feedback provided.
  5. Produce a final report which dependant on the TOR, will advise whether a complaint is substantiated or not as a breach of either an organisational code of conduct or any other standard.
  6. The final report may provide recommendations for next steps, or simply whether the complaint is substantiated or not. The employer then can consider what the appropriate next steps are.

Using an independent third-party investigator

Undertaking a formal investigation internally will generally be more cost effective than using an outside party. However, there are a few things to consider.

First and foremost, it means that you become both the investigator and the decision-maker. This can make you vulnerable to charges of bias and claims that you have found what you expected to find and are therefore not actually impartial.

Secondly, the task of proper investigation is time-consuming and can be emotionally draining for those involved. Be aware that an investigation will take you away from your other responsibilities, and make sure before you start that you have the capacity — and the support if needed — to complete the investigation thoroughly.

An independent, suitably qualified and competent outsider can undertake the formal investigation and give you a report that cannot be challenged for bias. If an outside party has completed the investigation for you, you’re free to make the final decisions on the report and its conclusions, and to move forward without any allegations of bias.

Next steps

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, you may need to continue with formal employment processes. Alternatively, it may be appropriate to utilise either mediation or facilitation to resolve the matter.

Conflict can be difficult to manage, and our team includes experienced workplace investigators, as well as mediators and facilitators who can assist with getting to the bottom of workplace conflict.

Contact us to find out how we can help.

Voluntary redundancy has been widely offered as part of the change proposals that are being reported in the public sector. But what are the pros and cons of voluntary redundancy?

Voluntary redundancy is a tool often utilised when an organisation needs to make cost savings fast and has identified reduction of headcount as an option to do so.

It has been widely reported that New Zealand’s public sector has been offering voluntary redundancy to workers within certain areas of their organisation to assist the organisation with finding savings between 6.5 and 7.5%.

While there may not be support for a proposal for change in the first place, Unions have publicly backed the opportunity for their members to be offered voluntary redundancy by public sector agencies as a first option as it allows employees to “make their own decisions about their future”.

Voluntary redundancy is also useful to utilise as part of a selection criteria, when there are multiple people performing the same position. It can be difficult to create objective selection criteria which achieves the desired outcome for organisations. Utilising voluntary redundancy as the first consideration before selection criteria provides organisations the opportunity to reduce as many numbers as possible before relying on the selection criteria to provide the strategic outcome.

To ensure that voluntary redundancy doesn’t create gaps in an organisation, employers should consider ring-fencing the option. For example, the Ministry for the Environment has asked for “expressions of interest” in redundancy, which allows the agency to retain full discretion over whether they accept expressions of interest for certain roles or individuals.

However a downfall of voluntary redundancy is that there can be a cost associated to it. For example it is not uncommon in the public sector for employees to be entitled to redundancy compensation, RNZ recently found the average redundancy or termination payment for a public servant is about $50,000. For those organisations that provide redundancy payments, it can often mean a short-term dent in their budgets to fulfil their longer-term strategy to save costs.

The option to take redundancy can also result in skilled and long-term employees leaving the organisation, who may not have been made redundant had a selection criteria been applied. Employers regularly apply selection criteria which take into consider tenure, overall experience and attendance rates when deciding who should be selected into the remaining positions.

When it comes to creating the strategy for change, employers should be mindful about their objectives and the subsequent impacts that can come with any outcome.

Here at Three60 Consult we can assist organisations with developing their strategy for change and delivering it. Get in touch if you would like to learn more.

The Living Wage for 2024/25 is set to rise to $27.80 in Sept 2024, a 6.9% increase from the previous rate of $26.00.

The increase is linked to the 6.9% increase in NZ’s average ordinary time hourly rate in the June 2023 Quarter, which is the mean value of wages and salaries paid per hour, excluding overtime. According to Stat NZ, this rate rises and falls as the type of work being done changes.

What does this increase mean? If your organisation is an Accredited Living Wage Employer, it is required to pay workers at least $27.80 from 1 September 2024. This includes paying contractors who also perform work for the organisation, such as commercial cleaners.

Organisations who have committed to pay Living Wage in an employment agreement or collective agreement are required to pay workers at least this rate.

An organisation is however not obligated to apply the rate if they have simply chosen to apply the Living Wage without receiving accreditation or making a contractual commitment.

This announcement comes as the Adult Minimum Wage increased by 2% as of Monday 1 April 2024, rising to $22.70 per hour.

The minimum wage increase has received criticism for not mirroring the rate of inflation (which was at 4.7% at December 2023), with many holding the view that the Living Wage should be the bench mark for wages, as it is designed to give people enough money to cover living expenses.

The timeline of these discussions around remuneration and cost of living is also happening at the same time as large New Zealand organisations have introduced sweeping change proposals to minimise costs in their organisations –  a response likely due to the Government’s instruction for public entities to reduce costs and also attributed to the recently announced recession, due to the GDP shrinking by 0.1% in December 2024 following a 0.3% contraction in the prior period.

There is no better time than now for organisations to be turning their mind to how they will be approaching remuneration in the 2024/25 financial year and balancing this with operational requirements and financial needs of the organisation.

At Three60, our team are experts at managing change and assisting organisations with implementing their strategic plans.

Get in touch to find out how we can help.

The Authority issued an interesting, and arguably controversial, decision with its release of this determination earlier this month.*  In the decision, the Authority was asked to decide if the Cooperative had validly initiated collective bargaining with HPS or not.

The Cooperative said its notice to initiate collective bargaining complied with the law while HPS said it was not bound to respond because it did not employ athletes (a statement of fact) and that there is no relevant employment relationship.

So put shortly, the Authority determined that its task was to decide whether collective bargaining could be initiated by the Cooperative in circumstances where the other party (HPS) does not employ employees within the intended coverage of the proposed collective agreement.

It concluded that collective bargaining could be initiated in those circumstances because a proper construction of the relevant provisions of the statute ( the Employment Relations Act) allowed of that outcome.  The Authority went on to imply , however, that it was clear that bargaining could never be concluded in those circumstances because ratification of any deal would be impossible (ratification requiring a member within the coverage of the agreement).

I suggest this decision will be controversial because here there is no common intention as to future employment.  Nor, to emphasize the point, does HPS want to employ persons within the proposed coverage clause.

So, without the prospect of employment and with the apparent acknowledgement that any collective negotiations could never be concluded within the terms of the Employment Relations Act, how is it possible for the Authority to conclude that bargaining could be initiated?

The relevant definitions in the statute, according to the Authority lead it to its conclusion.  For example, the definition of “employer” does not limit that concept to bodies employing or intending to employ staff within the relevant coverage clause; all that is required is that the employer employ some staff, as HPS does, and that the concept of employer must include “prospective employer”.  And, the definition of ‘employee’ similarly must include a “prospective employee” in reliance on AFFCO NZ LTD v NZ Meatworkers Union [2017]NZSC 135.

Moreover, nothing in the statute requires that there must be an employment relationship before bargaining can be initiated.

But what of the practical consequences of all this?  Is it practical to allow bargaining to be initiated in circumstances where it cannot legally be concluded?  Similarly, is it sensible for bargaining to be able to be initiated where there is no relevant employment relationship either existing or in prospect?

While we understand High Performance Sport has decided to challenge the Authority’s determination, we also understand that the parties have commenced bargaining for some form of collective agreement although, as we mention above, it is difficult to see how that agreement might be finalised given the present state of the parties.

Perhaps it has to be assumed that the parties’ positions will change as the matter progresses and perhaps their ultimate positions may be different from their starting positions.

Only time can answer those questions.

 

Summary written by James Crichton, Employment Relations Specialist & Barrister

 

*Full judgement: Athletes’ Cooperative Inc v High Performance Sport New Zealand Ltd [2024] NZERA 43

I have been involved in bargaining for collective agreements for over 25 years now and the bargaining environment over the last 12 months is nothing like I have ever seen before.  Expectations between Employees, Unions and Employers are wildly apart.  Bargaining is taking significantly longer and there is a greater willingness of Employees to resort to strike action if their claims are not being met.  The crux of these differences in 99% of cases is a focus on wage and salary increases for Employees.

Unions, having to be responsive of the desires of their members, are quite rightly pushing harder and seeking larger wage and salary increases with a focus on this, over and above other terms and conditions that are bargained for.  Employers are balancing massive increases in operational costs, supply chain inefficiencies, increases in overhead costs such as insurance premiums and interest on borrowings, as well as a shrinking economy and little to no growth for a sustained period of time.

In some ways it’s an imperfect storm.  Expectations versus realities and significant changes to the labour market over the last 2 years (famine to feast) as the result of the ending of COVID restrictions and the start of record-level immigration.

With the end of the financial year approaching there is a big focus for organisations on wage increases and asking – how are organisation’s planning to approach wage and salary increases in the coming financial year, and the future 2 to 3 years?

This is a critical question to ask in what is currently a tough economic time for both Employers and Employees.  Each organisation will have to look at the different conditions and challenges it is facing in the short, medium and long term, to balance those at times competing priorities to determine what, if any, increases may be right for it.

There are a multitude of different factors organisations should consider when determining the approach to remuneration, and in particular wage and salary increases.

Factors to Consider

For many years prior to COVID there was a big focus from organisations on an organisations EVP – the employee value proposition.  What is it that attracts and retains employees to work for us?  What are the overall factors that make our organisation a desirable place to work?

While an organisation’s EVP is absolutely still relevant and critical long-term, I think one key thing that our emergence from COVID taught us is that where there is a labour supply shortage, cash is king!  While a lot of people may dismiss this, and I have heard a lot that pay is more of a hygiene factor than a true determinant of attraction, (which I agree with), in the conditions that we faced in emerging from lockdowns and a shortage of labour, it was a reality that wage and salary rates for most roles had to increase to meet the demands of the labour markets.

The flood of immigration since the last restrictions of COVID was removed, leading to NZ’s record immigration levels over the last year, has had a sobering impact on the availability of labour in many industries.

The current reality is that NZ is experiencing economic downturn and there are forecasts for a prolonged period of low growth in the NZ economy.  Where Employers were once struggling to find anyone who may in interested in a job, that situation has dramatically changed with record number of unsolicited CV’s and continued restructuring and downsizing becoming more common over the last 6 – 12 months.

Employees, coming from 2 years of reasonable increases in many industries where labour was difficult to find or significant increases when changing jobs, still have their expectations reasonable high in an often quoted “cost-of-living-crisis”.

However, everyone is facing significant challenges in terms of the costs they are experiencing from increases in; rent, mortgage interest rates, rates increases, insurance premiums and continued increases in prices of everyday goods and services.

I’ve seen an increase pressure on Employers to ensure any increases in pay rates meet the level of inflation (currently the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is 4.7% per annum to end of December 2023), to maintain relativities with increases in the minimum wage (2% from 1 April 2024) and are seen to be fair and reasonable while trying to meet at least the current Living Wage (currently $26 per hour and  set to further increase from 1 September 2024 in the range of an estimated further 5%-6%).

A common occurrence are Employees and Union quoting profit levels and CEO salaries (where these are publicly disclosed), during negotiations in efforts to “shame” Employers into agreeing to higher increases. It is my view that this approach often takes no account of the risks and relativities of organisational size, scope and medium to longer term impacts of providing increases beyond what may be prudent, given all the circumstances.

There has also been a recent push for Employers to consider the Household Living Costs Price Index, (HLCPI, – currently 7% per annum to the end of December 2023), as a more accurate measure of the real costs of living.  Stats NZ define that the purpose of the HLCPI is to provide insight into the cost of living for different household groups therefore the Unions may have a valid point.  However, if you look at the CPI vs HLCPI over time, CPI has historically been slightly higher until the recent impact of COVID from 2020.

All of these economic tools to measure the costs of living and operating in the economy usually bring a common and very true response from Employers, Employees and Unions – which is that each of us, (Employers, Employees and Unions), use the particular economic statistics that support the story we are trying to sell tell!

Throughout this time, we have also had a public sector whose levels of increases over the last 2-3 years has outstripped the private sector.  Certainty, growth in salaries and job security in the public sector, (at least up to the election and current change in government), have been unprecedented in the last 30 years.

You may be asking, how is the public sector’s growth relevant to your organisation and industry?  When there was once a limited pool of labour across NZ, the impact on private organisations was an increased  pressure to match the wage and salary levels offered in the public sector. This is despite private organisations having little ability to increase prices changed for goods and services to match the increase in labour costs, as well as all other costs faced by private sector employers, such as; supply chain and transport increases, insurance premium increases, borrowing cost increases.

So, with all this going on, what does it mean for Employers thinking about what should they do regarding wage and salary increases over the next year?

Take Care!  Reflect on what it is you are trying to achieve with your remuneration?  Consider the following:

These are the types of questions our Associates at Three60 Consult ask when working with our clients in collective bargaining to help us understand not just what we may have in terms of any mandate in bargaining, but so we can represent the reasons for any proposals to Employees and Unions aligned to the goals and objectives the organisation is seeking to achieve.  A lot of what is fuelling the high expectations from Unions and Employees is reference to; what’s happened in the past, how people perceive they are rewarded compared to others, and challenging these expectations at both a logical and emotional level is important to reaching outcomes that all involved can live with.

Setting you next budget for wage and salary increases is going to be more challenging than ever.  The specific factors that are present for your organisation and how you communicate and share these with your employees will be critical to managing expectations.  The next 12-24 months are likely to be extremely challenging for Employers in terms of setting remuneration levels, engaging in bargaining (where there are unions) and that fine balancing act between wage and salary levels and continuing to reinforce a positive overall EVP for all your employees.

 

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!

 

Written by Adrian Tocker, Senior Associate

Ph: 021 791 044

email: [email protected]

Local Politics is Rough and Tumble, but its about learning strategies to be resilient throughout the rough and tumble.

As we enter the second year of the triennium, elected members and council officers are faced with a few challenges including that most councils across New Zealand are predicting potentially large rates increases and/or controversial changes to their annual budget in order to fund essential infrastructure and services.

Compounding these challenges is the threat that such unpopular decisions will result in upset within the community and abuse being directed to elected members. A prime example is where abuse pops up on social media platforms, carefully crafted news articles and even in emails sent directly to members. Unfortunately, the abuse can spill into threats of physical violence or public confrontation at community meetings or worse by directly impacting an elected member’s private life.

Managing and determining how to respond to any form of abuse can be a minefield both for the recipient but also for those council officers who advise and are charged with health and safety responsibilities.

It’s hard for anyone to ignore abuse, but for elected members who are passionate about a decision, more so, especially when the protagonist is posting statements which are simply wrong or reputationally damaging. If a member does respond, sometimes even the most innocuous response will fuel a gas lighter on a mission.

Performing under constant threat of criticism eventually gets exhausting, even for the toughest politician and there are a number of accounts where gifted politicians have crumbled under pressure. The Siouxsie Wiles employment dispute has shone a light on just how extreme online abuse can become and the capacity for otherwise reasonable New Zealanders to target public figures. Equally this case, puts on notice those PCBU charged with providing a safe work environment for their employees, which includes elected members.

Although resilience can be learned there is a line between building resilience and soldiering on. Abuse has an accumulative effect.  Well-being is not a by-product of sheer determination but is an ongoing process which requires external support. Resilience training helps but is not enough of itself, rather a key element in suite of tools which includes risk assessment, learned behaviour, accountability and acknowledgement.

At Three60 Consult we are passionate about local governance and our experts’ run workshops aimed at ensuring those elected members brave enough to stand for their community have the tools to do so safely and resolutely. Sign up to our Newsletter here and receive information on our Governance Webinars and Workshops.

 

Written by Maureen Glassey, Senior Associate.

Get in touch with Maureen here

An action taken by an Employer which has derived solely from a disputed interpretation of an employment agreement cannot be pursued as a personal grievance.

Breen and Prime Resources [2023] NZEmpC 199 has distinguished the difference between a personal grievance (s103) and a dispute (s129) and identifies that there is no jurisdiction to investigate a claim for a personal grievance when the claim itself falls solely within the scope of the dispute procedure.

 

Background Facts

The dispute between the parties started when Prime Resources expressly believed that the Employee had not been working full time during lockdown. Relying on a clause in the employment agreement around deductions for hours not worked, Prime Resources sought confirmation from the Employee to deduct from their full pay. The Employee objected to this reduction.

The parties attended mediation, where it was agreed that Prime Resources would make a late payment to the Employee for the full pay for the period in question, however notwithstanding that, following the mediation the Employee raised a personal grievance for being unjustifiably disadvantaged by the late payments.

While the Authority found that the company had unjustifiably disadvantaged the Employee with one deduction (but not the other) and made an award, the Employee was dissatisfied with the quantum of the award and challenged part of the result. Prime Resources responded by challenging the entire decision, on the basis that there was no jurisdiction.

Why did the Court find a PG was the incorrect forum for this issue?

The Chief Judge of the Employment Court states in this judgement that there is a clear intention in the Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA2000) to draw a distinction between personal grievances, such as unjustified dismissals and unjustified disadvantages, and disputes. This is seen by how the ERA2000 is written and structured.

Personal Grievances are available, so parties have the option to receive compensatory awards, and s103 of the ERA2000 explicitly states that an unjustifiable action by the Employer does not include any action (disputed or undisputed) depriving solely from the interpretation, application or operation of any provision of any employment agreement.

On the other hand, s129 of the ERA2000 states that a dispute exists where there is a dispute about the interpretation, application, or operation of any employment agreement, and any person bound by the agreement or any party to the agreement may pursue that dispute in accordance with Part 10.

The dispute procedures are usually used in cases where parties seek declaratory relief (i.e. a statement from the Court), which can be used to commence further proceedings such as a breach of contract claim, a compliance order application, and/or a penalty action.

As the company’s actions were found to be based on a genuine interpretation of the employment agreement clause, the Employee’s claim related to an action deriving from an interpretation of an employment agreement and this meant the dispute procedure applied.

The personal grievance and the previous Authority decision therefore had to be set aside.

What are the implications of this?

Christina Inglis, Chief Judge, made a reasonable observation that arguably every unjustified disadvantage claim engages issues about interpretation, application and operation of employment.

It is reasonable for people to be asking – does this mean the process for raising PGs has changed?

The short answer is no.  This outcome will not mean that people have to change how they craft their claim (i.e. picking between a PG or a dispute) – and it is unlikely that we will see employees and their advocates do this!

Rather the case puts people on notice that they need to carefully review the facts of the case.

If there are mixed facts, involving both interpretation etc of an employment agreement together with other ancillary factors like perhaps the behaviour of the employer around the issue, then a disadvantage grievance may be appropriate.

But if the argument between the parties is solely concerned with the interpretation, application or operation of any employment agreement, then the dispute is the proper resolution path. And the result of this is that if the matter goes to the Authority as a personal grievance, then there will likely be an unsatisfactory outcome.

Join us for this timely and insightful webinar on the possible changes the new (to be) Coalition Government may make to employment legislation and landscape.

Employment experts James Crichton, Barrister and Employment Law Specialist, and Madeline Wrigley, Business Partner will provide valuable insights and share their assessment of what’s ahead, potential impact on current practice, and how employers can prepare.

Whether you are an employer, owner-operator, business manager, or HR professional, don’t miss this opportunity to stay informed and to help prepare your business, organisation and team, as we head towards 2024.

Secure your participation now – click register and be at the forefront of understanding and adapting to the evolving employment landscape.

Date: 5 December 11am-12pm

FREE Event

REGISTER HERE 

 

Workplace conflicts are like unwanted guests – they tend to show up uninvited and disrupt the harmony. Understanding the root causes of these conflicts is an important first step toward finding effective solutions. Here, we delve into four of the common reasons for workplace conflicts that we come across and provide a range of strategies, from low-level interventions to more escalated approaches, to help address and resolve them.

1. Differences in Communication Styles:

Miscommunication is a common catalyst for workplace conflicts. People have diverse ways of expressing themselves, leading to misunderstandings and tension.

Low-Level Intervention:
• Foster a culture of open communication (note this is different from a culture of saying whatever you want).
• Implement policies outlining what type of communication is and isn’t acceptable.
• Provide communication workshops to enhance skills in active listening and clarifying messages to ensure understanding.

Escalated Approach:
• Reiterate expectations when conflict arises relating to communication.
• Mediation can be beneficial when conflicts persist despite improved communication efforts.

2. Differences in Work Styles:

Varied work methods and approaches can create friction, especially when team members don’t appreciate each other’s methodologies.

Low-Level Intervention:
• Promote understanding of different work styles within the team.
• Encourage colleagues to adapt and appreciate diverse approaches.

Escalated Approach:
• Conduct conflict resolution training to help people navigate differences constructively.
• Involve HR, a well-respected manager, or a mediator to work through disputes and find compromises.

3. Lack of Recognition and Fairness:

When employees feel undervalued or unfairly treated, it can lead to resentment and hostility in the workplace.

Low-Level Intervention:
• Implement regular feedback sessions to acknowledge and appreciate employees’ contributions.
• Ensure transparency in promotions, assignments, and recognition.

Escalated Approach:
• Establish transparent performance evaluation processes.
• Involve HR or a neutral mediator to address concerns about recognition and fairness, ensuring a fair resolution.

4. Conflicting Interests and Goals:

When individual goals clash with team objectives, it can lead to resentment and disputes among colleagues.

Low-Level Intervention:
• Facilitate team-building activities to promote a sense of shared purpose.
• Encourage goal alignment within teams.

Escalated Approach:
• Establish clear team goals and individual roles.
• Seek third-party facilitation if conflicting interests continue to disrupt teamwork.

Addressing workplace conflicts requires a combination of understanding, appreciation, communication, and intervention strategies. By recognising the causes early on and applying appropriate solutions, organisations can create work environments where conflicts are minimised, and employees can focus on their tasks productively.

If you would like to understand more about how our team of experts can assist your workplace to upskill in conflict management or address ongoing conflict, please get in touch with us.

With a National Party, ACT and NZ First government on the way, we thought it would be good to be reminded of how some of their election campaign promises might impact employment relations.

Each of these parties’ had 2023 election campaigns that touched on employment relations, and while the new Government may or may not bring some of these policies into law – here are the potential adjustments that have been floated.

Restoration of 90-Day Trial Periods for Larger Employers:

The 90-day trial period policy has seen back-and-forth changes over the years. Originally introduced by the National party in 2009, it was expanded nationally in 2011. However, when Labour came into power in 2017, trial periods were restricted to employers who employ fewer than 20 employees.

National and Act’s manifestos however proposed that in the first 100 days it will revert the law so the 90-day trial periods available for all employers.

Dependent on the changes that are made to the law, the 90-day trial application could be different despite the well-established case law.

In our experience, the 90-day trial period can be a double edged sword for employers who rely on the trial period but don’t have a strong understanding (or seek good advice before relying on the trial period) of how to comply with the strict requirements of the legislation. This can lead to greater risk of personal grievances than if they didn’t have access to the trial period.

Employers interested in using 90-day trials should consult with experts to ensure they comply with the requirements.

Scrapping the Fair Payment Agreement Act:
Both National and Act have committed to repealing the Fair Pay Agreement Act of 2022.

This act aimed to create a process for workers to negotiate industry-wide minimum employment standards, such as pay, leave, training, safety, and more. At least 7 FPA applications are underway at various stages, however none have been settled.

For most employers this will be good news as it will enable employers and employees to continue to negotiate terms and conditions that are right for them rather than be subject to broad industry requirements which may be difficult and costly for smaller employers to comply with.

Changes to Parental Leave:
National plans to modernise paid parental leave rules, allowing parents more flexibility in using their entitlements, including taking leave at the same time. This change could provide more options for parents in managing their leave and caregiving responsibilities.

Proposed Amendments to ERA2000

Act’s manifesto has targeted certain areas of the Employment Relations Act 2000 that it seeks to amend. Specifically, amending the Act so contractors are prevented from challenging their employment status under S6 of the Act in the Employment Court and that independent contractor agreements meet a certain criteria.

This proposed change is likely in response to the increased number of cases being raised with the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court by employees and Unions who represent a sector of workers who challenge their legal status as a contractor. While the case law in this areas has only grown and set a firm bar for the employee vs contractor test, it is a legal area that many organisations have struggled to navigate. A change to this would therefore have a significant impact on how many organisations choose to operate and manage workers, due to the risk of a challenge being brought being reduced entirely.

Other changes are amending the Act to restrict the availability of reinstatement remedy and speeding up the PG process by imposing stricter time limits on the Employment Relations Authority.

Other commitments made during the 2023 Election Campaigns:
• Halting work on the proposed Income Insurance Scheme (National)
• Increasing the cap on seasonal workers (National)
• Relax rules for agricultural workers on the Accredited Employer Work Visa by removing median wage requirements and introducing a path for residency (National)
• Sectors who have worker shortages able to access additional working holiday visas (National)
• Remove a public holiday (Act)
• Restore the Targeted Trade and Apprenticeship Fund (Act)
• Replace the Accredited Employer Worker Visa with a Critical Skill and Labour Shortage Visa (Act)
• Examine the feasibility of lifting the adult minimum wage to $25 per hour, by allowing businesses a tax concession to do so (Act)

While there is no certainty that all or even some these will be implemented, we can say with certainty that there will be change coming in 2024 to the employment landscape.

Here at Three60 we are experts at managing change and strategising with employers to navigate changes such as these. Reach out to us today.