Parliament has presented employers with two early Christmas
presents: new 90 day trial periods for businesses with fewer than
20 employees, and changes to KiwiSaver, mainly lowering minimum
employee contributions and maximum employer compulsory
contributions to 2%. Both these measures were passed under urgency
on 12 and 11 December respectively. Key points for employers are
90 DAY TRIAL PERIODS WITH NO UNJUSTIFIED DISMISSAL CLAIM
The Employment Relations Amendment Bill 2008 introduces
'trial periods' for businesses with fewer than 20
employees, when they take on a new employee.
Key features of this Bill are:
Businesses with less than 20 employees (at the beginning of the
day of hiring) will be able to put new employees on a trial period
of up to 90 days.
Although passed under urgency, trial periods will not come into
force until March 2009.
Trial period provisions must be written in an employment
agreement. The length must be specified.
Employers must give notice if they dismiss an employee during a
trial period. The employee cannot bring a personal grievance (or
other legal proceedings) 'in respect of' their dismissal.
But they can still bring a claim based on discrimination, racial or
sexual harassment or a disadvantage grievance.
Good faith provisions of the Employment Relations Act 2000
(ERA) apply to trial periods. But the good faith provisions
relating to consulting and providing information on the decision to
dismiss, do not apply to trial periods. Also, employers are not
required to comply with section 120 requests for reasons for a
trial period dismissal.
The current probationary provisions in the ERA are still
available to all employers. 'Trial periods' will be
different to 'probationary periods'.
Employees can only undergo one trial period. Employers cannot
put an employee on a trial period if they have previously employed
CHANGES TO KIWISAVER: TAXATION (URGENT MEASURES AND ANNUAL
RATES) BILL 2008
Parliament has passed changes to KiwiSaver. In brief, the
changes introduce the following from 1 April 2009:
The Bill repeals 10 September amendments to the ERA allowing
disadvantage grievances relating to membership of a KiwiSaver
scheme. The Government says those September amendments are not
needed because it has now amended the KiwiSaver Act 2006 to require
employer contributions to be paid on top of an employee's
Minimum employee contributions of 2% of gross pay instead of
4%. Employees will be able to choose to contribute 2%, 4% or 8% of
gross salary. The default rate for new employees will become
Compulsory employer contributions capped at 2% of gross salary
instead of 4% (and the exemption from employer superannuation
contribution tax capped at 2%).
No employer tax credit.
No $40 a year fee subsidy (existing members will keep their
subsidy for the remainder of their membership year).
Compulsory employer contributions must be paid in addition to
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This publication is intended as a first point of reference
and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional
advice. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation
to any particular circumstances and no liability will be accepted
for any losses incurred by those relying solely on this
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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.
This WHS decision clarified the interpretation of s 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW).
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