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New employment laws — what you need to know

By MSN NZ Money staff
06:30 AEST Fri Apr 1 2011
Jenni Palmer, the victim of a derogatory email exchange.
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Major changes to employment laws come into force today.

Employment law experts have said the new system will give greater power to employers, but others say they are a welcome change as the previous system was too heavily weighted in favour of workers.

Some of the new changes include:

  • Bosses can demand a medical certificate from workers taking just one sick day. Previously a certificate was required if the employee had three days off or if the employer had reasonable cause for suspecting a fake illness.
  • The 90-day trial for new workers is to be extended to all companies, meaning workers dismissed within the first three months of employment cannot take a personal grievance case.
  • Workers can negotiate the transfer of a public holiday to another day.
  • Unions have to ask employers for access to workplaces but access cannot be unreasonably withheld.
  • Workers can trade the fourth week of holiday leave for cash, if they and their employers both agree.

The government has said the changes will increase job opportunities because the trial period will make bosses more likely to take a chance on hiring a new worker.

However many unions plan to fight some of the new changes.