Further changes ahead for the Employment Relations Act
Looking at the year ahead, we're likely to see further
reforms to the Employment Relations Act 2000, with the proposed
changes anticipated to come into effect in the second half of the
One area of the proposed reforms aims to further clarify Part 6A
of the Act, which deals with 'vulnerable workers' whose
work is affected by restructuring. The proposed changes
Exempting incoming employers with fewer than 20 employees from
complying with Part 6A
Requiring outgoing employers to forward individual employee
information to the incoming employer
Detailing a process to help outgoing and incoming employers to
agree how to apportion accrued service-related entitlements of
Adding additional penalties and compliance orders for
non-compliance with Part 6A.
Amendments to the collective bargaining regime are also
expected, including changes to:
Empower the Employment Relations Authority to declare the end
of collective bargaining in certain circumstances
Allow employers to opt-out of multi-employer bargaining
Allow partial pay reductions in cases of partial strike action,
Remove the requirement for non-union members to be employed
under the terms and conditions of a collective agreement (where one
is in force which covers their work) for the first 30 days of
Other changes include amending the duty of good faith in section
4 to align it more closely with the privacy principles in the
Privacy Act 1983, and extending the right to request flexible
working arrangements to all employees, from their first day of
Social networking forums have become the modus operandi of
connecting, meeting and communicating for billions of people
worldwide. Employees, however, need to realise that what is said in
a supposedly private setting online often isn't as private as
intended, as has been highlighted in the recent case of Taiapa
v Te Runanga o Turanganui A Kiwa1 .
After requesting one week's leave without pay to attend a
sporting championship and being granted only three days by his
employer, Mr Taiapa reported in sick claiming he had damaged his
calf muscle and was unit for work. Regrettably for Mr Taiapa, a
colleague saw him leaving town with his family and his employer
became aware of a photograph on Facebook showing Mr Taiapa smiling
and giving the thumbs up with 'a large female sitting on his
After an investigation and based on a number of factors, Mr
Taiapa was dismissed for serious misconduct by dishonestly taking
sick leave. The Employment Relations Authority concluded it was
open to a fair and reasonable employer to view Mr Taiapa's
actions as dishonest and that they undermined the necessary trust
and confidence required in the employment relationship.
1  NZERA Auckland 252
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
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