New Zealand government launches taskforce to review Holiday Act

New Zealand holiday

The New Zealand government has established a taskforce of employer, employee and government representatives to review the Holidays Act 2003 and ensure it is fit for purpose for modern workplace practices.

The government-commissioned working group will focus on reviewing the legislation around the provision and payment of holiday and leave entitlements under the Holidays Act 2003, particularly exploring whether existing legislation is suitable to apply to today’s varied work patterns and pay arrangements, as well as whether the Holidays Act 2003 is effective for employers to implement and action.

The working group, which will be chaired by Gordon Anderson, a law professor at Victoria University, may also consider other related issues that arise as a result of the review.

The working group will offer its recommendations to government after 12 months, to provide proposals for a clear and transparent set of rules for providing entitlements to, and payments for, holidays and leave that can be readily implemented in a payroll system and is applicable to a diverse range of working and pay arrangements.

The Holidays Act 2003 provides minimum entitlements to annual holidays, public holidays and sick and bereavement leave in order to promote work-life balance for employees.

Systemic compliance issues regarding the Act were reported in 2012, which led to a large number of employees not receiving their correct entitlement of leave. This was attributed to how the Act was implemented within payroll systems as well as the structure of the Act itself.

Iain Lees-Galloway, workplace relations and safety minister, said: “There’s been enormous change in our labour market over the past 15 years and it’s clear we need to look at the Holidays Act with a fresh pair of eyes and ensure it is fit for modern workplaces and new working arrangements.

“We need law that provides certainty to both employers and employees so that employees receive their correct entitlements. The legislation needs to be straightforward and simple to implement, and deliver fair rest and entitlement for [employees].

“With an increasing variety of work patterns and pay arrangements, the legislative requirements of the Act are proving difficult and costly for employers to apply and employees are not receiving their full entitlements.

“The time is now right to directly address the underlying issues with the Act. I’ve been approached by [advocacy group] Business NZ and the Council of Trade Unions to help tackle this vexed and complex set of issues and I’m excited about the work we have ahead of us.”