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Working Conditions in New Zealand

1. Health and Safety in Employment

The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (“HSEA”) imposes obligations on employers and employees in the workplace, and is designed to protect employees and others in a place of work from harm in workplaces.

A new statutory scheme for health and safety is in the process of being passed into law. The Health and Safety Reform Bill, when enacted (expected to occur in 2015), will increase the obligations on employers, company officers and directors and employees, and will also substantially increase penalties for breaches.

2. Holidays

The Holidays Act governs annual leave, public holidays, sick leave and bereavement leave.

Employees are guaranteed not less than four weeks’ paid annual leave per year, up to eleven paid public holidays. These are all minimum entitlements and employment agreements may improve on these rights.

3. Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)

ACC provides comprehensive, no-fault personal injury cover for all New Zealand residents and visitors to New Zealand including motor vehicle, non-work and work-related injuries.

ACC levies are funded by liable earnings, motor vehicle ownership and usage and the Government Budget.

4. Parental Leave

Employees are eligible for parental leave if they have worked for the same employer for an average of at least 10 hours a week, and at least one hour in every week or 40 hours in every month, in the six or 12 months immediately before the baby’s expected due date or the date the employee has assumed the care of a child intended for adoption. An employee must have been employed for 12 months as at the expected due date to be entitled to extended leave of up to 52 weeks in total.

5. Other Legislation

Other employment legislation in New Zealand covers minimum wage (currently $14.25 per hour), privacy, discrimination, and accident compensation.

6. Discrimination Laws

The Human Rights Act 1993 protects people in New Zealand from discrimination in a number of areas of life, including in employment. The prohibited grounds of discrimination are set out in section 21 of the Act.

For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in New Zealand, please contact Don Mackinnon, Partner at SBM Legal (www.sbmlegal.co.nz) at don@sbmlegal.co.nz
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