By: Charlene Sell
There have been many changes to our laws over the last few years that directly affect New Zealand businesses. In this article, we have brought together key information on the most important changes. 

If you are concerned about how these changes affect your business, please contact a member of our commercial or employment teams.

Increased Protections for Consumers: What Businesses Need to Know

Some of the most important changes to New Zealand's consumer laws in recent times were enacted over the last couple of years.

These changes will affect nearly all businesses in New Zealand who deal with consumers. If you are an owner or manager of a business you will need to consider whether your documentation and processes need to be updated to comply with the new laws.

Laws to know include:

  • Unfair contract terms
  • Unsubstantiated representations
  • Product safety
  • Uninvited direct sales
  • Unsolicited goods and services
  • Layby sales
  • Extended warranties
  • Disclosure of trader status
For a brief overview of the key changes read more here

Consumer Law Reform: Unfair Contract Terms

Arguably the most wide-reaching change following the recent overhaul of New Zealand's consumer laws is the prohibition on unfair contract terms in standard form consumer contracts. These changes came into force in March 2015.

Key topics include:

  • What is the purpose of the change?
  • What is a standard form consumer contract?
  • What is an unfair term?
  • What happens if a term is declared to be unfair?
  • What do you need to do? Read more here

Consumer Law Reform: Unsubstantiated Representations

The inclusion of a new prohibition on businesses making unsubstantiated representations is one of the key amendments to the Fair Trading Act. Businesses are prevented from making representations about their products or services if they do not have reasonable grounds for the representation when it is made, whether or not it later turns out to be true. These changes came into effect on 17 June 2014.

To find out about what the purpose of the change, the types of claims that are caught, and when you will have reasonable grounds to make a claim read more here.

New Health & Safety Legislation - Not Something to Fear

While most of us accept that reform of New Zealand's approach to health and safety is necessary, most of us will also feel a sense of unease and nervousness about what might be involved.

However, concerns surrounding the changes under the new Act – which has key parts that came into force on 4 April 2016 – are largely unwarranted. 

To find out about PBCUs, officers, due diligence and various real world examples read more here.

The Employment Standards Legislation Bill

The Employment Standards Legislation Bill came into effect on 1 April 2016, resulting in some sweeping changes to our employment laws.  The Bill makes several amendments to key pieces of employment legislation with the aim of (promoting) fairer and more productive workplaces by providing enhanced protections and benefits for both employers and employees.

As these changes are so far reaching, we recommend you review your employment agreements and employment practices to make sure you are compliant.

To find out about the changes to parental leave, zero-hour contracts and enforcement of employment standards read more here.

Minimum Wage Obligations for Salaried Employees

Do you know that you have an obligation to ensure at least the minimum wage is paid to your salaried employees?

Many employers assume that the requirement to pay the minimum wage does not apply where an employee receives a salary. However, a recent Employment Relations Authority decision makes it clear that this requirement applies whether employees are paid a wage or salary. This is reinforced by the new record keeping requirements introduced under the Employment Standards Legislation Bill. Read more here.

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