Health & Safety Changes

Are you prepared for the new Health & Safety Changes?

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 came into force on 4th April.  Here's what you need to know to ensure your business is compliant with the new Act.

The major changes affect all businesses regardless of your industry, impacting business owners, directors and senior managers.  The Act is far reaching and also effects rental property landlords, volunteer organisations and incorporated societies.

  • If you haven't already done so, take appropriate steps now to ensure you and your place of work is compliant with the Act.
  • If your company is in a high risk industry or has more than 20 workers, you are now required to establish work groups and facilitate the election of Health and Safety representatives if requested by workers.
  • Ask workers about any Health and Safety risks and hazards they are aware of.  Get their advice on how to minimise or eliminate them.
  • Involve and consult with workers on Health and Safety matters.  Consider their views and provide reasonable opportunities for workers to participate in improving Health and Safety in the workplace.
  • As a director and business owner you need to be proactive in understanding risks and hazards in your place of work.  Risks and hazards identified could include ensuring working hours are safe, considering worker fatigue for shift and night work and also risks associated with workers not following instructions.
  • Consider and invest in resources to meet your obligations for training of officers and workers, gaining expert and/or specialist information on risks and keeping updated on Health and Safety requirements.
  • Add Health and Safety as an agenda item to all management and board meetings.
    • Ensure your Health & Safety policies address all risks and hazards identified.  These policies need to be sound and regularly reviewed to ensure ongoing compliance.  Training should also be provided in relation to the policies.
    • If required, take advice from Health and Safety specialists.  A number of industry organisations and groups have experts who can help.
    • Landlords now have a primary duty of care for the safety of all persons on their property meaning they are now responsible to ensure the property is "without risks to the health and safety of any person.  It is the owner's responsibility to hire a suitable contractor who must be licenced.

For more information on the Health and Safety changes please contact our office.


Employment Law Changes

Are you up to speed with your new Employment Law obligations?

The Employment Standards Legislation Act came into force on 1st of April.  The changes mean more parental leave and more flexibility, more certainty and fairness in employment, and stronger enforcement of minimum employment rights.  So what exactly does all that mean.

  • Employers are required to keep accurate employment records and produce them when requested by a labour inspector.  Good record keeping protects the employer in the case of a dispute and ensures that an employee's entitlements are correctly met.  The key requirement in the new legislation is that employers should be able to produce a record of the number of hours worked by employees each day in a pay period, and the pay for those hours. This should be in an easily accessible format on request from an employee or from a labour inspector. Employers will have flexibility as to what form this record takes.
  • Parental leave has been increased from 16 weeks to 18 weeks from 1 April 2016 and will become available to more workers such as casual and seasonal workers, those with more than one employer, and those that have recently changed jobs.  Parental leave will also be available to primary care givers who are not the biological or adoptive parents (eg, a grandparent).  There is also the introduction of 'keeping in touch hours' which allows the employee to keep up with training and skills development during the 18 weeks.
  • Minimum wage has increased by 50 cents from $14.75 an hour to $15.25 for those workers aged 16 years or over and not starting-out in work or training, or in the first year of an apprenticeship.  For those workers starting-out and training, hourly minimum wages rates increase from $11.80 to $12.20 per hour (80% of the adult minimum wage).
  • Zero-hour contracts are now banned.  Employers must give employees reasonable notice of cancelled shifts and if there is not enough notice provided the employers are required to reasonably compensate employees.
  • Every employee must have a written employment agreement stating the hours of work.
  • Employers will be prevented from restricting secondary employment for employees in their employment agreements, unless they have a genuine reason based on reasonable grounds to do so, the reasons must be stated in the employment agreement. Those grounds won't be prescribed but will be related to the risk of loss to the employer of knowledge, property (including intellectual property), commercial reputation, or preventing a real and unmanageable conflict of interest.
  • The new legislation strengthens the range of actions that labour inspectors can take against employers who fail to meet their obligations:  an increase in fines from $10,000 to $50,000 for an individual and from $20,000 to the greater of $100,000 or three times the financial gain for a company.

For more information on the Employment Law changes please contact our office

please contact our office.