Employment law professor sees Holidays Act amendments through

Professor Gordon Anderson chaired the Holidays Act Taskforce and the members of the Taskforce will have their approved recommendations introduced into legislation in early 2022.

Professor Gordon Anderson with copies of his 2017 publications
Professor Gordon Anderson with copies of his 2017 publications

Professor Gordon Anderson from Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington’s Law School literally wrote the book on Employment Law in Aotearoa New Zealand.

No surprises, then, that he was asked to chair the Holidays Act Taskforce, which produced a consensus report that made 22 recommendations agreed to by union and business representatives.

“The key mandate of the taskforce was to make recommendations to the government for a clear and transparent set of rules for providing entitlements to, and payment for, holidays and leave,” says Professor Anderson.

The taskforce consisted of representatives from the unions, employers, and the state sector. “Each of the members had considerable experience in dealing with problems arising from the existing legislation. Our goal was to simplify the Act to ensure both employers and employees could rely on holiday entitlements being accurately calculated,” he says.

Professor Anderson says the acceptance of the Taskforce Report reflects the fact that all three parties had a common interest in developing solutions to benefit all of their constituents.

While the key recommendations relate to the methodology for calculating leave entitlements, other recommendations include:

  • Entitling eligible employees to bereavement leave and family violence leave from their first day of employment.
  • Giving eligible employees one day’s sick leave from their first day of employment, with an additional day given per month until the minimum entitlement is reached.
  • Extending bereavement leave to include more family members, including cultural family groups and more modern family structures.
  • Removing the current parental leave ‘override’ to address discrimination against parents who take time off to care for their young children—removing this provision will mean that employees returning to work following parental leave will be paid at their full rate for annual holidays.
  • Requiring payslips, so employees know what their used and remaining leave entitlements are, and how these were calculated.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood said in a Beehive press release, “Officials have begun further detailed policy design work on these changes and will involve a range of payroll experts to make sure we get it right.”

The government expects to introduce legislation in early 2022, which will go through the full parliamentary process.