Employment Law proposal for employers: Increased obligations and tougher penalties.


Carolyn Ranson, Employment LawyerThe Government has approved a package of changes to NZ employment law, designed to better enforce employment standards against employers. The measures proposed are specifically directed at employers who exploit migrant workers. However, the result for all employers is greater obligations and tougher sanctions:


  • The maximum penalty for serious breaches of the Employment Relations Act 2000 will be increased to: $50,000 (for an individual); and the greater of $100,000 or three times the financial gain of the company (for a company).
  • Employers may be publicly named; Individuals may be banned from being an employer; and Senior staff members including directors, senior managers, legal advisors, may also be held accountable, and be subject to penalties, where they knowingly and intentionally are involved when the employer breaks the law.
  • An employer which has ceased to trade may still be held accountable.

Greater powers for Labour Inspectors

  • Labour Inspectors will have greater information sharing powers with other regulatory bodies, including Immigration New Zealand, the Companies Act and Inland Revenue.
  • Labour inspectors will be able to request any record or document from an employer that they consider will help them determine whether or not a breach has occurred. This will include financial records and bank statements.
  • Higher standards of record keeping
  • Employers will be held to keeping better records of wages, time and leave.

See also The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2014 - what employers need to know.

Next steps

The proposal will be introduced by way of an Employment Standards Bill to Parliament later this year. Smith and Partners will continue to monitor the proposed package and follow the bill through Parliament.
In the meantime, if you are an employer; you should ensure that your organisation has employment agreements and proper procedures and processes in place to avoid getting caught out.

In accordance with our obligations under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, we cannot provide legal advice unless you have become a client of Smith and Partners and have received our Terms & Conditions of Engagement and Info for Clients. 

If you would like advice on any employment law related matters, please contact Suzanne Sumner, Personal Assistant to employment law expert, Carolyn Ranson to find out how you can become a client of Smith and Partners and to set up an appointment to discuss your employment matter with Carolyn. 

Suzanne Sumner

Ph: 09 837 6840

Email: Suzanne.sumner@smithpartners.co.nz

Enquire online

 (Please note we do not offer no win – no fee payment arrangements)


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