Evaluation of the short-term outcomes of the 2010 changes to the Employment Relations Act and Holidays Act

11 Jun 2014

Some of the recent changes to employment legislation in New Zealand are working as intended, this report finds.

Overview: This report provides a short-term evaluation of the 2010 amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 and Holidays Act 2003.

The evaluation follows a mixed methods approach, based on qualitative interviews and quantitative survey data, and includes the following key areas of legislative change;

  • allowing all employers the option to use trial periods
  • changes to the Holidays Act (cashing up annual holidays, transferring public holidays, payment for some holidays and leave and providing proof of sickness)
  • making union access to workplaces conditional on employer consent, and
  • changes in provisions relating to employment problem resolution.

For trial periods, some of the benefits of extending coverage to all businesses identified included reduced risk when hiring new people, greater flexibility, ease and security of use and some cost savings for employers.

The report shows that extending the use of trial periods to all employers has resulted in more employment opportunities, with one third of employers surveyed saying the provision has led to them hiring people they otherwise wouldn’t have.

For the Holidays Act amendments, benefits included greater flexibility and increased choices for some employers and employees.

In some cases the evaluation found that the successful uptake of the changes has been affected by variable levels of understanding and difficulty applying the changes. For example, employers are finding that some Holidays Act provisions are still difficult to apply in some work arrangements, such as for people with variable work hours.

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