New Zealand » Articles

Filter Countries

New Zealand: McDonald’s Restaurants New Zealand successfully defended the first “zero hours” test case

In 2016, legislative changes were made to prevent “zero hours contracts”, i.e. the practice where employees did not have guaranteed hours of work, but were required to be available to take on any work their employer made available, making it hard to plan their finances and personal lives.
In the first test case since the legislative change, McDonald’s has now successfully defended the union’s claim that McDonald’s employment agreements contained an “availability provision”. The union argued that McDonald’s had an availability provision in its employment agreement and that it did not provide for reasonable compensation for the requirement to work additional hours. The union’s claim was rejected, because employees were not “required” to work additional hours, instead, any request that an employee work additional hours could be turned down.

New Zealand: Election year in New Zealand could mean potential changes to employment relations law.

Elections take place in September this year in New Zealand with National and Labour as the two major political parties. If there is a change of government and Labour obtains a majority, we may see the introduction of a living wage for public service employees as well as Fair Pay Agreements (a common set of terms and conditions applying to a particular industry).

New Zealand: Amendment Bill to allow higher earners to contract out of the personal grievance provisions

A bill is currently being considered by the New Zealand parliament, which would allow high income earners to contract out of the personal grievance provisions of the Employment Relations Act 2000. This intention behind the Bill is to remove the threat of costly personal grievance claims for employers on the basis that high earning employees should arguably have the skills and bargaining power to be able to negotiate the terms of their employment and do not require the protection of the personal grievance regime.

International companies with New Zealand based employees may be able to enforce foreign law in employment agreements

International companies that have New Zealand based employees may now be able to enforce their choice of foreign law in employment agreements should an issue arise. The New Zealand Court of Appeal has found that the express specification of foreign law in an employment agreement should be the relevant law to apply before assessing whether any conflict of law exceptions apply.

New Zealand: Court ruling on penalties for companies that do not adhere to minimum employment standards

There is little guidance in New Zealand on how courts should approach penalties for companies that do not adhere to minimum employment standards, particularly for multiple breaches. However, a recent New Zealand Employment Court case, demonstrates an increased willingness to impose high penalties for multiple failures of minimum standards.

New Zealand: Refresher on the Use of Fixed Term Contracts

A New Zealand Teaching Association (union) has claimed that employees are being “forced” to accept fixed term contracts. The Teaching Association reports that only 15% of new teaching graduates are being employed in permanent positions, with many schools relying on fixed term contracts as a way to manage funding from year to year or to “trial” new teachers. In New Zealand, fixed term employment contracts can only be used where an employer has a genuine reason based on reasonable grounds for limiting employment to a fixed term. The consequences of not complying with the requirements for a fixed term contract are that if an employee challenges his/her termination, the employer is not able to rely on the fixed term to justify that employee’s termination. The practical effect of this will be that the employee relationship is permanent, and the employer could be ordered to pay compensation for an unjustified dismissal or to reinstate the employee.