4 March 2021: COVID-19 Wage Subsidy March 2021

  • A new subsidy has been released following the rise in Alert Levels on 28 February 2021. This subsidy is designed to help employers and self-employed people continue to pay workers and protect jobs for affected businesses.
  • A business must have had a 40% decline in revenue over the 14-day period between 28 February and 21 March, compared with a typical 14-day period between 4 January and 14 February 2021.
  • It will be paid for 2 weeks at the rate of:
    • $585.80 a week for each full-time employee retained (20 hours a week or more)
    • $350 a week for each part-time employee retained (less than 20 hours a week).
  • Any business nationwide can apply, however the subsidy will not be given to employees for the period they are covered by another COVID-19 subsidy.
  • Applications became available on 4 March 2021 and payments started from 8 March 2021.

30 March 2021: Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Bill

  • The Protection of Whistleblowers Bill will ensure New Zealand has a strengthened regime for disclosing serious wrongdoing in the workplace.
  • The Bill clarifies the definition of serious wrongdoing, streamlines the reporting process, strengthens protections for disclosers, and clarifies other procedures.
  • The Bill is currently before the Education and Workforce Committee, whose report is due on 30 March 2021.

1 April 2021: New Minimum Wage Increase

  • As at 1 April 2021 there will be a new adult minimum wage of $20.00 per hour and a new starting-out and training minimum wage of $16.00 per hour.

6 April 2021: Select Committee Report - Increasing the Minimum Sick Leave Entitlement

  • Employee's minimum entitlement to sick leave is set to increase from 5 to 10 days per year. The profile of the issue has been raised in the context of COVID-19, with public health guidance instructing workers to stay home when sick.
  • Employees will become eligible for the 10 days on their next entitlement date (either the 6-month mark for new employees, or the 12-month anniversary of when they last became entitled to sick leave).
  • Employees will be allowed to carry over up to 10 days of unused sick leave in any given year (rather than the current 15), to then be entitled to 20 days as per the status quo.
  • The Bill is currently before the Education Workforce Select Committee; whose report is due on 6 April 2021. Enactment of the amendment may be expected later in 2021.

Late 2021: The Screen Industry Workers Bill

  • The Screen Industry Workers Bill has been introduced, completed its first reading and been reported on by the Education and Workforce Committee. The Bill is currently on its second reading, so enactment may be expected later in 2021.
  • The proposed Bill would allow screen workers to bargain collectively despite being contractors. If passed the legislation could set a precedent for other contractors to collectively bargain and / or have Fair Pay Agreements.

Early 2022: Holidays Act Review

  • Changes to the Holidays Act will create a clear and transparent set of rules for providing entitlements to and payment for, holidays and leave.
  • The amendments will simplify the notoriously ambiguous Holidays Act. It will also increase access to some leave entitlements including:
    • From their first day employees will be entitled to bereavement leave and family violence leave and will begin accruing sick leave.
    • Bereavement leave will be expanded so that employees can access three days leave for more family members, including cultural family groups and more modern family structures.
    • Parental leave override will be removed, meaning that employees returning from parental leave will be paid at their full rate for all their annual holidays.
  • The Government expects to have introduced legislation by early 2022.

24 June 2022: Matariki Public Holiday

  • The Matariki Advisory Group has decided the new public holiday will be first celebrated on Friday 24 June 2022.
  • The Government has not released details regarding amending the Holidays Act.

Other matters on the policy horizon

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