2020 and what it means for employers – New Zealand

Often when employers call us with a question or problem they ask “Is this happening a lot at the moment?” And nine times out of 10 the answer is “Yes”. Things come in waves. For example, the last couple of years we have seen an increase in employers managing bullying, harassment and sexual harassment complaints.

If we were to crystal ball gaze these are the top three issues facing New Zealand employers in 2020.

Flexible working arrangements

Often when a candidate is applying for a role or has been successful in obtaining a role they will look to negotiate more flexibility. Whether that be working less days, less hours, working from home or a flexi-time arrangement that means that they have to work so many hours per week but can complete those hours at any time.

The Employment Relations Act 2000 provides for a process for existing employees to request flexible working arrangements.

What is becoming clear is that a huge driver for employee satisfaction is time – whether this means less time at work or flexibility as to where and when people can do their work. Many employers have already recognised this. We have seen Perpetual Guardian introduce the ‘four day week’. Many would have seen in the news recently that Vodafone have introduced their ‘Fridays off in Summer’ policy.

We would suggest that such initiatives are going to become the norm and employers may want to turn their mind to what they can offer moving forward.

Restructurings and redundancies

Many economists are forecasting an economic downturn. Some are suggesting it has already started. For employers this may mean a restructuring and in some cases redundancies.

This is becoming an increasingly difficult area of law and we remind employers to justify a restructuring they need to show:

  1. That they have sound business reasons to look to make the proposed changes; and
  2. A robust process to implement those changes including consulting with the parties concerned.

2020 General Election

Labour this week announced that our General Election will be held on 19 September 2020. Although the parties are yet to release their employment relations policies, employers have to prepare themselves for change either way.

If we return to a National led government we may see the reversal of many of the changes that the Labour led government have implemented over the last two years.

If we continue to have a Labour led government it is expected that they will continue the work they have already started. This will include and is not limited to:

  1. The Holidays Act 2003 review;
  2. Fair Pay Agreements; and
  3. The current review into the rights of contractors.