September 2022 – What’s happening in employment law reform?

6 Sep 2022
Author: Andrea Twaddle

Employment law continues to be a dynamic area for businesses and employees to navigate, with the Government’s labour market reform agenda progressing at pace, Commissioners taking a proactive role and numerous decisions of interest being released by the courts. In this article, we summarise what to keep an eye on in employment law reform. 

Fair Pay Agreements 

The Select Committee has heard submissions on the Fair Pay Agreements Bill, including strong opposition by employers.  

The Committee is due to report back to Parliament by 5 October 2022, with the intention that the Bill is considered and passed before the end of this year.  

Income Insurance Scheme progressing 

Sixty million dollars was allocated in the 2022 Budget toward the establishment costs of setting up Labour’s proposed Income Insurance Scheme. ACC is undertaking the required work. 

Labour indicated its intention that the Scheme would be in place by 2024. However, the funding allocation itself required legislation (passed as part of the budget package), which faced significant opposition by National and Act. Greens abstained. Further progression of the Scheme will be largely dependent on results of the 2023 election. 

Increase in Paid Parental Leave entitlements 

Parental leave entitlements increased from $621.76 to a maximum payment of $661.12 per week from 1 July 2022. 

Increase in the Living Wage 

The living wage in New Zealand increased on 1 September 2022 by 90 cents, from $22.74 in 2021 to $23.65 an hour. The living wage is a voluntary benchmark, and designed to represent the amount of money required for workers to fully participate in society.  

Immigration policy settings 

The revised immigration settings took effect on 4 July 2022. The Accredited Employer Work Visa requires that incoming workers are paid no less than the median wage (initially set at $27.76/hour). 

Immigration NZ has announced exceptions to median wage requirements for various industries from 1 October 2022, to try to ease labour shortages.  

Sector agreements are in exchange for ‘ongoing improvements’ to allow industries that have traditionally relied on a lower-paid migrant workforce, to improve attraction and retention of domestic workers and focus efforts on retaining, training and upskilling New Zealanders.  

Industry details differ, but may include a cap in the number of migrant workers, certain occupations, wage thresholds, maximum visa durations and stand downs.  

Immigration and employment law is a complex area and we recommend expert advice is sought to navigate those processes and obligations. 

Increased Whistleblower protections now law 

In our May article, we summarised the Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act, which is intended to provide stronger protection to employees who make disclosures of serious wrongdoing in a workplace. The Act provides for: 

  • An easier disclosure process; 
  • Extended grounds under which a protected disclosure can be made; and 
  • Removal of the requirement to lodge a complaint with the employer first. 

Bill considered to extend timeframes for raising sexual harassment claims 

As set out in our article a Member’s Bill to extend from 90 days to 12 months the period in which a personal grievance can be raised for sexual harassment passed its first reading in Parliament in May.  

The Employment Relations (Extended Time for Personal Grievance for Sexual Harassment) Amendment Bill is now being considered by the Education and Workforce Committee, with submissions on the Bill now closed.  It is expected that this legislation will be passed in time.

Regulation of employment advocates 

In New Zealand, regardless of qualifications or experience, anyone can act as an ‘employment law specialist’, ‘employment law advisor’, ‘employment advocate’ or similar. There is no regulation in this sector, no ethical obligations, a lack of specific consumer protections such as requirements for transparency in fees and how a client might raise a complaint (or who to). 

Just as with Financial Advisors and Immigration Advisors, the stakes are high when an employment advocate doesn’t meet reasonably expected professional standards. Regulation and licensing provides basic consumer confidence that the person engaged is competent to deal with the matter, and required to conduct themselves consistently with professional standards in order to act in the best interests of the client. The push to regulate this sector and ensure that a rogue few do not tarnish the well-earned reputation of others is welcomed.  

Need help to ensure your workplace is compliant with current legislation? 

For advice on employment law reform and how it applies to your workplace, please don’t hesitate to contact our specialist employment lawyers at DTI Lawyers. We are experts and would be pleased to assist you. You can contact us on 07 282 0174, or

September 2022 – What’s happening in employment law reform?
About the Author
Andrea Twaddle
Andrea is an experienced specialist employment lawyer and Director at DTI Lawyers. She advises on contentious and non-contentious employment law issues, including privacy, and health and safety matters. Andrea is AWI-CH qualified, and undertakes complex workplace investigations. She is a member of the national Law Society Employment Law Reform Committee, a former Council Member at the WBOP District Branch of the Law Society, and Coordinator of the WBOP Employment Law Committee. Andrea is a sought-after commentator and speaker on employment law issues at client and industry seminars. She provides specialist, strategic advice to other lawyers, professional advisors and leadership teams. You can contact Andrea at