Employment law under a coalition government

With special votes confirming the possibility of a three party coalition (comprising National, Act and New Zealand First), a further wait is now required before those respective groups trade their bottom lines to agree on ministerial postings, and, as important, the likely delivery of policy.

It is fair to say that Labour law did not feature prominently in any of the major parties’ campaign strategies, though, inevitably, with a change to a right of centre Government, the expectation is that there will also be a change to some aspects of employment relations in this country.

Government Coalition 2023

An obvious target will be trial periods in employment agreements. A feature of changes between Labour and National governments this past decade or more has been a tinkering of trial periods.

In brief, National introduced trial periods on a limited scale in 2009, and then rolled them out nationally in 2011. In its 2017 campaign, Labour promoted a complete end to trial periods but once in Government (with New Zealand First on board), it settled on limiting trial periods to small businesses with 19 or fewer employees.

National recently campaigned to bring back trial periods for all New Zealand employers, a plan it shared with Act. As with most aspects of this recent election, Winston Peters may have the last say on trial periods (if only, as is likely, to confirm the position adopted by the other two parties).

Another key focus will be Fair Pay Agreements. Labour spent a large part of its recent two terms in office first talking about and then implementing a Fair Pay Agreement system (in a select group of industries).

National and ACT campaigned to end the system. How New Zealand First views Fair Pay Agreements (at least in terms of the labour law policies it campaigned on) is not entirely clear, though with National at the helm two terms of Labour toil in this area may also be at an end.

We expect however that the picture will become clearer by the time of our post-election employment law seminar on 23 November 2023, at Govett Quilliam New Plymouth. Register your spot using the link below.

Come along to our FREE Employment Law Seminar ›

For independent employment advice, contact a member of Govett Quilliam's Employment Law Team today.

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