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2020 has not been the year we all expected it to be.  The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new and unprecedented “normal”.  However, this year was due to see a number of changes to our laws which will impact on employment relationships.  These changes are still going ahead despite the pandemic (although in some instances altered by the pandemic), and it is important that you are aware of them.  To ensure you are up-to-date with these law changes we have set them out in a ‘2020 Employment Law Calendar’.

March 2020: The Screen Actors Workers Bill
  • The Screen Industry Workers Bill has been introduced and has completed the first reading. It has been referred to the Education and Workforce Committee on 5 March 2020, to be reported on 2 June 2020.
  • The proposed Bill would allow screen workers to bargain collectively despite being contractors.  If passed the legislation could set a precedent for other contractors to collectively bargain and / or have Fair Pay Agreements. 

1 April 2020:  New Minimum Wage Increase
  • As at 1 April 2020 there will be a new adult minimum wage of $18.90 per hour and a new starting-out and training minimum wage of $15.12 per hour. 
  • The Government has confirmed that the changes to the minimum wages will go ahead, even in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, the Government has acknowledged that some employers will struggle to process the raise in minimum wage before 1 April 2020.  In this situation, the Government has advised employers can continue to pay employees the current minimum wage, however must process the increase as soon as they are able to do so safely, and will need to back-pay employees for any hours that were worked, but for which the increased pay rate could not be processed.
1 April 2020: Implementation of Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis Regulations)
  • As at 1 April 2020, the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulations 2019 will come into effect.  The regulations focus heavily on quality control of the medicinal cannabis products as well as licencing of various medicinal cannabis activities. Employers need to be aware of this in relation to drug testing and safety sensitive work.

12 April 2020: Easter Sunday
  • In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has changed the usual Easter trading hours for supermarkets.  Supermarkets will close on Good Friday but will open on Easter Sunday.

28 June 2020: Triangular Employment Amendment Act
  • The Employment Relations (Triangular Employment Amendment Bill) comes into effect on 28 June 2020, unless the Governor-General appoints an earlier date.
  • The Bill applies to employment relationships where employees are employed by an employer but work under a “controlling third party”, which exercises control or direction (similar to an employer) over that employee.
  • The Bill allows employees to join a controlling third party to a personal grievance, along with their employer.

1 July 2020: Increase of paid parental leave
  • Paid parental leave will increase to 26 weeks. The extension aims to support working families with newborns and young children to help reduce financial stress.
  • The new law also increases the number of keeping in touch hours to 64 hours.

19 September 2020: General Election and Public Referendum to decide on the legalisation of the End of Life Choice Bill and the Cannabis Legislation and Control Bill
  • On 19 September 2020, there will be two referendums taking place alongside the General Election. The New Zealand public will be asked to decide whether recreational cannabis should be legalised and whether the End of Life Choice Bill should become law.
  • Both Bills will be worded as a Yes/No question – asking whether the voter supports the proposed Bill coming into force, or not.

At some point this year Contact our Employment Team if you want to find out more about these upcoming changes.

Wynn Williams is a member of SCG Legal, a global network of more than 110 independent law firms with both legal and public policy practices serving businesses in all 50 U.S. state capital cities and the District of Columbia, as well as capital cities and major commercial centers in more than 50 countries. SCG Legal has developed a COVID-19 Global Resource Center, which is focused on up-to-date legal and public policy developments from more than 25 different countries and most U.S. States. To access it, visit

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