Key Changes To The Employment Relations Act

There are a number of recent amendments to the Employment Relations Act that may affect NZMA members. Key changes are below and specific advisories for NZMA members have been updated to accommodate these changes.


The Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act

Effective 1 April 2019.

The law entitles employees affected by domestic violence to up to 10 days of paid domestic violence leave per year, in order to deal with the effects of domestic violence. Employees will be able to take this leave as needed – similar to the existing sick leave and bereavement leave provisions. See NZMA advisory.


Trial Periods

Effective 6 May 2019

From 6 May 2019, only an employer with 19 or fewer employees (at the beginning of the day on which the employment agreement is entered into) may employ a new employee on a trial period for the first 90 calendar days of their employment. Any trial period that was entered into prior to 6 May 2019 will continue to be valid.


Collective Bargaining (MECA) Primary Care

Effective 6 May 2019

  • If your practice is a party to the MECA, new employees who are not members of the NZNO will once again be covered by the terms and conditions of the MECA for their first 30 days of employment, plus any additional agreed conditions that are no less favourable to the employee.
  • A new employee will need to be advised of this and will need to be given a copy of the MECA. They need to be advised that the agreement covers the work to be done by them, that they may join NZNO, how to contact the NZNO, and that if they join they will be covered by the MECA.



Effective 6 May 2019

  • Specified numbers of breaks will apply again (1 tea break for a work period of more than 2 hours, 1 tea break and 1 unpaid meal break for a work period of more than 4 hours, 2 tea breaks and 1 unpaid meal break for a work period of more than 6 hours, and so forth)
  • The timing of those breaks will be as agreed, or if there is no agreement between the employer and employee, there are prescriptive requirements which put the breaks evenly spaced through the work period “as far as is reasonable and practicable”


Personal Grievances

Effective 12 December 2018

  • Reinstatement is again the primary remedy for a personal grievance.