2018 has been a busy year of legislative change.

After almost a year long process, the Employment Relations Amendment Bill (Bill) has now passed into law. Looking ahead, this will create significant change for 2019 and we will be discussing this in our client seminars in the New Year. The Bill comes into force in three parts over the next 6 months as follows:

Changes now in force:  

  • Union representatives are able to access the workplace without consent where a collective agreement is in force or bargaining is taking place.
  • Unions are able to initiate bargaining 60 days before the collective agreement expires.
  • Employers are no longer be able to opt of out bargaining for a Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA), however, there is no duty to conclude a MECA.
  • Reinstatement is now the primary remedy.

Changes in force on 6 May 2019:

  • Union delegates will be entitled to reasonable paid time off to represent employees.
  • The duty of good faith will require parties bargaining for a collective employment agreement to conclude a collective employment agreement.
  • The rates of wages and salary will be required to be included in collective employment agreements.
  • Employer’s obligations to prospective and new employees who are not union members will be changing, including a duty to pass union information.
  • Trial periods will no longer be available to all employers and will only be available to small to medium sized employers (employers with fewer than 20 employees).
  • All businesses taking over a contract involving ‘vulnerable’ employees will have to employ the people currently doing the work on the same terms and conditions.
  • Rest and meal breaks will return to the previous prescriptive approach in terms of length and timing.

Changes in force 6 months after Royal Assent (June 2019):

  • Union membership status will become a prohibited ground of discrimination.

The Government has also made the following changes to legislation which come in force as follows:



Minimum Wage Act

  • Increased to $16.50 on 1 April 2018
  • Will increase to $17.70 on 1 April 2019
  • Government committed to raising the minimum wage to $20 by April 2021

Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act

Effective from 1 July 2018:

  • Paid parental leave increased to 22 weeks
  • Keeping in touch days increased to 52 hours

Effective from 1 July 2020:

  • Paid parental leave will increase to 26 weeks
  • Keeping in touch days will increase to 60 hours

Domestic Violence – Victims Protection Act

Effective from 1 April 2019:

  • 10 days paid domestic violence leave
  • Statutory right to request short term flexible working
  • New ground of personal grievance and discrimination

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.