The Labour Government Election Policies
The election is now behind us and the outcome wasn’t really a surprise, probably the surprising factors being that the outcome for National was worse than expected, with Labour performing better than was expected, being in the unique position of being able to govern alone.
As I write this, we are still awaiting the outcome of the two referendums, however I thought it was timely to reflect on some of the changes that the Labour Government has made to employment legislation over their past term, and look at their election policies and what we are like to see moving forward over their next term.
Over the past three years of Labours term some of the changes that Labour made to the Employment Relations Act included the provision of greater protections to workers, particularly those considered to be vulnerable workers, reinstating of meal and rest breaks and amending the 90-day trial period to businesses with less than 20 employees. Back in April they raised the minimum wage to $18.90 per hour. They have also updated the Equal Pay Act, addressing the well-publicised gender pay gap, along with increasing paid parental leave up to 26 weeks and increasing the maximum payment by $20 per week.
Moving forward, in the Labour Governments election campaign, so of the big topics to note for employers are the increase to the minimum sick leave entitlements from 5 days currently to ten days per year. Minimum wage will also increase to $20 per hour in 2021. They also publicised the notion of an additional public holiday to recognise Matariki from 2022. Also outlined was the plan to progressively extend the Living Wage through to those who contract to the public sector such as cleaners, caterers and security guards, along with pay equity for women and make it easier for workers to receive fair wages and conditions by implementing Fair Pay Agreements. The Holidays Act – still a work in progress is also on the board for further review and simplification.
Labour are also pledging to implement a major support package to help businesses with the aim of hiring at least 40,000 Covid-10 impacted kiwis back into the workforce.
For those who have lost their jobs due to Covid-19 and separate to the Wage Subsidy Scheme, people can now receive payments of up to $490 per week whilst they either look for new employment or retrain.
So for now – while Labour enjoys their win and the post-election high, as business owners we are taking stock of the few months in the lead up to Christmas, starring into our crystal balls and pondering what joys Christmas and the first quarter of the business year will deliver. As employers we are now having to consider more and more in this ever changing next generation world flexible employment, safe environments, staff protections, PC workplaces, and Covid-free end of year functions, all whilst scrutinising our operating budgets and cash-flow forecasts ….. #resilience