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Round-up of 2018 law changes

From payday reporting to a new minimum wage and rules around parental leave, here’s a summary of what’s new and what’s changed for small businesses and the self-employed – check which apply to you.

Minimum wage rates rise

When: 1 April 2018

What: The adult minimum wage rate has gone up 75c to $16.50 an hour. The starting out and training rates have risen 40c to $13.20.

What you need to do: If you pay your workers minimum wage rates, update your payroll and their employment agreements. Remember that these new rates must be paid from 1 April 2018, so you may need to back-date your wage rates to this date. 

If you have workers on starting out or training wages, this is also a good time to check when they will be eligible to move onto the adult rate.

Minimum wage rates (external link) — Employment New Zealand

When: Voluntary from 1 April 2018, compulsory from 1 April 2019

What: Businesses will need to file payroll information every payday, rather than once a month. This will replace the employer monthly schedule (EMS).

Why: To make a business’s tax requirements part of its payroll process, rather than being a separate step.

What you need to do: Start thinking about how and when you’ll opt in.

You may find payday filing easier if you use payroll software, because this allows your payroll information, including salary, wages, PAYE and other deductions, to be automatically sent to Inland Revenue at the same time as you pay your employees.

If you already use payroll software, ask your provider how they can support payday filing.

If you don’t use payroll software, start planning now. You’ll have time after your payday to file the returns. Payment due dates for PAYE and other deductions won’t change.

Payday filing (external link) - Inland Revenue

New parental leave rules

When: For employees taking parental leave for a child born (or coming into the employee’s care) from 1 July 2018

What: The rules around parental leave are changing.

  • The number of weeks that a parent can get government funded parental leave payments increases from 18 weeks to 22 weeks.
  • The number of hours that an employee can do paid work while they are on parental leave increases from 40 hours to 52 hours during the parental leave period.

What you need to do: Find out what this means for your business. Remember that these changes will apply from 1 July 2018, so entitlements will be different for different staff, depending on when their leave starts.

Paid parental leave (external link) – Employment New Zealand

Changes to the Food Act

When: 31 March 2018

What: New Food Act 2014 rules may apply to any types of businesses that sell food, from cafés to coffee carts, food trucks to butchers, food manufacturers to dairies.

Why: Everyone working in the food industry has a responsibility to make sure that the food we buy is safe and suitable to eat. This law change means food safety rules are tailored to individual businesses, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach.

What you need to do: Among the groups that should have already registered are:

  • cafés and clubs without an alcohol licence
  • bakeries
  • caterers
  • rest homes
  • dairies
  • convenience stores
  • some food manufacturers, eg makers of fresh pasta, and chilled or frozen meals and desserts.

While most people or businesses selling food will need to register, the Food Act does allow for some cultural and fundraising activities without registration.

If you are required to register, and haven’t done so yet, register with your local council or with MPI.

Food Act 2014 (external link) – Ministry for Primary Industries

Register a business under the Food Act (external link) – Ministry for Primary Industries

Anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism

When: When you must comply varies depending on your business activity:

  • 1 July 2018 for lawyers and conveyancers
  • 1 October 2018 for accountants and bookkeepers
  • 1 January 2019 for real estate agents.

What: The anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) Act is being expanded to cover a lot more New Zealand businesses.

Financial institutions have had to comply with the AML/CFT Act since 2013 — now other businesses will also need to comply, including real estate agents and many lawyers and accountants.

Why: This will help to detect and deter criminals laundering money or financing terrorism through New Zealand businesses. It also makes sure New Zealand meets international standards and protects our reputation as a good place to do business.

What you need to do: Check if the law applies to you.

If it does, you will need to:

  • meet new reporting requirements
  • meet new requirements for verifying the identity of your customers
  • keep good records.

Find out if your business is affected (external link) — Ministry of Justice

New hazardous substances regulations

When: From 1 June 2018, new regulations apply around:

  • additional training requirements for hazardous substances
  • requirements for storing certain classes of hazardous substances outside a hazardous substances location.

What: Changes to the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017

Why: Poor management of hazardous substances can cause harm or death.

Requirements have been coming into effect since 1 December 2017, and time has been given for businesses to make provision for some changes. Further regulations will come into effect in December 2018, June 2019 and December 2019.

What you need to do: Check which changes apply to you. WorkSafe’s Commencement and Transitional Arrangements page provides details on specific regulations and commencement dates for when you need to apply. It’s also a good idea to talk to your industry or trade body about the new regulations and how best to comply.

Guides to changes (external link) – WorkSafe

Commencement and transitional arrangements (external link) – WorkSafe

Hazardous substances tools and information (external link) – WorkSafe

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