Below is a summary of the key changes contained in the Employment Relations Amendment Bill 2018 that was passed by Parliament last week.
The most significant change that came into effect on 13th December 2018 (being the day after Royal Assent) is that businesses must now enter into bargaining for multi-employer collective agreements if asked to join by a union, HOWEVER, they will not have to settle a multi-employer collective agreement if their reason for not wanting to settle is based on reasonable grounds.
For example, if there are significant differences between two employers – such as one operating in Auckland where price and wages are higher, and the other in Invercargill – it could be reasonable for one employer to negotiate a single-employer collective agreement instead.
The most significant change that comes into effect on 6th May 2019, particularly for those involved in guard services, is the right to set rest and meal breaks is to be restored, HOWEVER, some limited exemptions may apply in specified essential services or national security services.
Amendments to Part 6D (rest breaks and meal breaks). Section 69ZEA – Exemption from requirement to provide rest and meal breaks.
This states that an employer is exempt from the requirement to provide rest breaks and meal breaks if:
a) The employer is engaged in the protection of New Zealand’s national security, and
b) Continuity of service is critical to New Zealand’s national security, and
c) The employer would incur unreasonable costs in replacing the employee during the rest or meal breaks with another person of sufficient skill and experience and without compromising New Zealand’s national security
The amendments Bill does not provide a definition for “national security” however the NZSA’s position is that all security workers who hold a Certificate of Approval under the Property Guard classification should be recognised as being engaged in New Zealand’s national security and we will lobby government on that basis.
See attached pdf for futher details