Final reminder: 6 May 2019 employment law changes on the horizon

In less than a week, a majority of those Employment Relations amendments passed at the end of 2018 will come into force.  It is time for a final refresher on what changes will take place on 6 May 2019 – and time for a last minute check that you have established appropriate internal procedures to ensure compliance with these new requirements. Failure to do so can result in Authority fines up to $10,000 for an individual and $20,000 for a company.

Union strengthening clauses:

  • The 30-day rule will be restored: new employees who are not union members but whose work is covered by a collective agreement will need to be employed under terms consistent with that collective agreement for the first 30 days of employment.
  • Employers must pass on information about the role and function of unions to prospective employees. The unions will cover the cost of these materials.
  • With days to spare, MBIE have finally released the active choice form on which employees are to indicate whether they wish to join the union or not. It is the employer’s obligation to:
    • Provide this active choice form to new employees within the first 10 days of their employment.
    • The employee has the first 30 days of their employment to complete and return the form. Once they do so, the employer must return it to the union within ten days – In other words, within the first 40 days of the employee’s employment.
    • If the employee fails to return the form, the employer must inform the union.
  • The duty to conclude bargaining will be restored.
  • Pay rates must be provided for in collective
  • Agreements (and an indication of how pay will increase).
  • Employers will need to allow reasonable paid time for union delegates to undertake their union activities.

Rest and meal breaks


 Cumulative breaks

 Between 2 hours and 4 hours  1x 10min break
 Between 4 hours and 6 hours  1x 10min break, 1x 30min
 Between 6 hours 8 hours  2x 10min breaks, 1x 30min
 After the first 8 hours

 If work continues :

 Between 10 hours and 12 hours

 3x 10 min breaks, 1x 30min
 Between 12 hours and 14 hours   3 x 10min break, 2x 30min
 Between 14 hours and 16 hours  4 x 10min breaks, 2x 30min

Employees must be given breaks as set out above. Employers must pay for minimum rest breaks but don’t have to pay for minimum meal breaks. Employers and employees can agree when the breaks are to be taken, but if they cannot agree, the law will require the breaks to be taken at set times, so long as it’s reasonable and practicable to do so.

We recommend negotiating break times ahead of the date – the times set by the law are very restrictive and may be practically difficult to meet.

Trial periods

Use of the 90-day trial period will be restricted to “small-to-medium-sized employers” (with 19 or less employees). Employers with 20 or more employees can still use probationary periods – a reminder that there must be a fair process for termination.


Employees in specified “vulnerable industries” (such as cleaning and catering) will be able to transfer on their current terms and conditions if their work is restructured, regardless of the size of the employer. Employees will have 10 working days to elect to transfer.

Workplace Law team

If you have any queries in respect of the above, or any other Workplace Law issues, please contact a member of Lane Neave’s Workplace Law team:

Employment: Andrew Shaw, Fiona McMillan, Gwen DrewittMaria Green,  Hannah Martin, Joseph HarropHolly StruckmanAlex Beal, Giuliana Petronelli, Abby Shieh
Immigration: Mark Williams, Rachael Mason, Daniel Kruger, Nicky Robertson, Julia StrickettKen Huang, Mary Zhou, Shi Sheng Cai (Shoosh)Sarah Kirkwood, Janeske SchutteLingbo Yu
ACC: Andrew Shaw
Health and Safety: Andrew ShawFiona McMillan

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