From mid-2016 Bay of Plenty businesses have a new voice, Bay of Plenty Business News. This new publication reflects the region’s growth and importance as part of the wider central North Island economy.
Bay of plenty JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 VOLUME 3 : ISSUE 2 WWW.BOPBUSINESSNEWS.CO.NZ FACEBOOK.COM/BOPBUSINESSNEWS What’s coming up in the workplace in 2018 Industrial relations could become a flashpoint this year. Photo/123rf The Labour-led coalition government has made it clear that employer-employee relations and workplace conditions will be a key focus for legislative change this year. In the pipeline are a raft of changes, from increasing the minimum wage and pushing for equal pay, to new arrangements for contractors, and a possible return to collective bargaining. By DAVID PORTER In this month’s cover story, we look at some of the key issues likely to impact employers in Bay of Plenty this year. How dramatic the workplace shakeup will prove to be in practise remains unclear. We have already seen the government adopt a milder approach than some expected to the issue of the 90-day probationary period, one of the more controversial of the new government’s legacies from the previous government. In late January, the government announced that it had effectively allowed small businesses to continue to have the right to fire workers without reason during the first three months of their employment. The new approach will only ban 90-day trial periods for employers with more than 19 workers. But given more than 95 percent of employers - especially in the Bayare small and medium-sized enterprises, in practise nothing much will change. Tom Beswick, a director with accountants Ingham Mora, said he was pleased to see the 90 day trials retained for smaller employers. “However, I’m not clear on what the problem was that is being ‘fixed’. Personally I haven’t seen complaints that businesses were abusing the current 90 day rule. “I’m not a fan of any changes that increase risk to businesses in the hiring process as this could reduce opportunities for people who will otherwise struggle to find employment.” Oliver Moorcroft, a director with lawyers Harris Tate, said the 90 day rule was never the “silver bullet” National intended. And he pointed out that a number of employers failed to appreciate that they needed to “The certainty is that employers will need to be taking a much more professional approach to employment matters. The bar is being lifted across the board around what is expected of employers.” – Kate Ashcroft, principal of Copeland Ashcroft Law strictly apply the terms of the employment agreement. “The employee can’t have “There are a heap of small businesses out there that have pretty slim profit margins. They rely a lot on employees on the minimum wage.” – Oliver Moorcroft, Harris Tate already started working - if you’ve started work even for 10 minutes without signing the contract, then the 90-day clause is unenforceable. The employer is also expected to advise the employee when they give them their letter that it has a probation period clause in it and advise them they can take advice on it. “If they don’t provide that advice and sit and make them sign it, then it potentially voids the agreement.” One of the key concerns regarding the raft of proposed industrial changes - especially for small businesses - is the looming increase in the minimum wage. “The main concern I hear from clients [about employment] is about the coming ramp in the minimum wages and how they are going to afford the increases,” said Ingham Mora’s Beswick. The minimum wage is to rise by 75c to $16.50 an hour from April 1, with increases set to continue with a targeted minimum wage of $20 by April 2021. Continued on page 5