The last few years and the Covid-19 pandemic have provided unprecedented development in employment law. We predict there will be continued developments in the employment law space in 2023.
In this article, we look at the year ahead, anticipated trends and also break down the changes that will be impacting employers and employees.
Potential Change in Government
This year is an election year. Although we cannot predict what our government may look like at the end of October, previous trends in electoral campaigning indicate a strong likelihood that our employment laws will be up for debate.
What we do know is that the income protection insurance scheme has been removed from the current Government’s agenda and that projects such as the Holidays Act reform (which have been ongoing for a number of years) will be continuing. In previous election years, we have seen changes to the minimum wage. This year is no exception with the Government announcing a change to minimum wage as of 1 April 2023.
The 90 day trial period is often referred to as a political football and we anticipate if there is a change of government to a National-led government, the scope of 90 day trial periods will again be expanded.
Skill and labour shortages
The skill and labour shortages that became apparent in the second half of 2022 will likely continue.
For employers, this will have wide-ranging impacts in terms of:
- setting remuneration and benefits to attract and retain staff;
- staying on top of their obligations when it comes to immigration and visa requirements, if recruiting overseas staff;
- ensuring they are continuing to meet minimum employment law standards; and
- looking after the health and well-being of all team members, particularly if they are short-staffed.
Cost of living and potential redundancies
Headlines telling businesses to prepare for a recession continue. With the rise of costs, wages and compliance, employers will be needing to make tough decisions. Employers are balancing the desire to attract and retain top talent with the realities of increasing costs and the impact this is having on their ability to stay afloat.
With many businesses having depleted reserves due the pandemic years, we are starting to see the beginnings of workplace changes (such as restructures or redundancies). If you are considering making these changes in your workplace, it is imperative that you run a legally sound process. Get in touch with the team at Black Door Law for assistance.
Who is an employee?
Last year, the Employment Court considered four Uber driver were employees or independent contractors. It also considered whether workers belonging to the Gloriavale community were employees or volunteers.
Uber has announced that it would appeal the Employment Court’s decision. The Gloriavale hearing is continuing in the Employment Court for many weeks in the first few months of 2023. We are likely to see the question of “who is an employee?” being tested and hopefully clarified.
In the policy space, a Tripartite Working Group consisting of unions, employers and government representatives has recommended law reform to provide clarity on this issue.
Changes to the law
We are also likely to see the following impacts resulting from legislative changes:
- Fair Pay Agreements Act 2022This is a relatively new piece of legislation, it only came into force late in 2022. It allows for industry wide bargaining for minimum terms conditions of employment. We have broken the law changes down here.Although we may not see the impacts of this bill until later in the year (due to the level of co-ordination required), we remain concerns about the impact of these agreements on smaller business when larger employees (with more resources) who get more votes, will have increased influence in the negotiations. We also understand the National Party has said they will repeal the bill if they are in Government.
- Employment Relations (Extended Time for Personal Grievance for Sexual Harassment) Amendment BillThis Bill aims to extend the time available for employees to raise a personal grievance that involves claims of sexual harassment to 12 months. It aims to improve the personal grievance process by recognising survivors may need additional time to consider their experience and whether they decide to pursue a personal grievance claim.At the time of this article, the Bill is in its Third Reading stage and has not received Royal Assent.
We are sure that many more topical issues will arise throughout the year, so keep your eyes out for our articles and updates on the fast-changing environment in the employment law.