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Employment Standards Legislation Bill

Introduced on August 13 this is an omnibus bill making a large number of amendments to a wide range of employment law including parental leave, employment relations, holidays and minimum wages. Expands the coverage and flexibility of parental leave this included allowing “stay in touch” provisions. Provides for stronger enforcement of employment standards, this include tougher penalties and extending accountability for employment law breaches. It also includes the Govt’s approach to the “zero hours” contracts and unreasonable wage deductions issues. The bill will prohibit employers requiring employees to be available for work over the contracted hours unless employees are able to refuse any work offered or the agreement provides compensation for availability. It also bans cancelling shifts without reasonable notice or compensation. Received its first reading Sept 8 and was sent to the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee for consideration with submissions closing on October 6. Only the Greens were opposed. Labour supported but were unhappy about the treatment of “zero hour” contracts, the depth of parental leave changes and other matters. Reported back on February 12, 2016 with minor amendments around parental leave. There are also changes around zero hour contracts rules, including compensation, the cancellation of shifts and secondary employment bans. Labour, Greens and NZ First filed a joint minority report opposing the bill. They argued zero hour contracts should be eliminated and the setting of standards enshrined them in law. Completed its second reading on March 3 by 94 to 25 with Greens and NZ First opposed. Labour said however it did not support the bill in its current form and still wanted to eliminate zero hour contracts. Discussions had been held with the Govt and Labour’s support on the bill in the final stages was conditional on further changes by closing loop holes in employment law which allowed such contracts.  At the committee stage on March 8 all parties bar ACT supported Labour’s amendments which banned permanent employment contracts which required availability without the guarantee of reasonable hours of work. David Seymour said the changes would create legal uncertainty and more work for lawyers. The bill completed its third reading on March 10 on a voice vote. Employment Standards Legislation Bill