Businesses urged to check new laws

03 Apr 2016

Local businesses should make sure they are across changes to health and safety, employment and parental leave legislation that will affect every office, factory, shop and workplace in the country says leading online accountancy software provider MYOB.

The new Health and Safety at Work legislation comes into force on Monday with the aim of reducing the number of New Zealanders killed or injured at work. It introduces a range of new responsibilities for employers and means they will need to do what is “reasonably practical” to manage risk in the workplace.

MYOB spokesman Scott Gardiner says the vast majority of employers take workplace safety extremely seriously and there is a large cultural shift happening in New Zealand businesses.

“It is important all businesses understand their obligations when it comes to the new law. It’s not just big employers that need to be aware about the new obligations. Small and medium enterprises also have responsibilities to keep their staff safe on the job.

“However, the majority of small businesses will be happy that the legislation doesn’t automatically require businesses outside of high-risk sectors with fewer than 20 staff to have elected Health and Safety Representatives.”

According to the latest MYOB Business Monitor, a nationwide survey of over 1,000 SME operators, almost two thirds (62 per cent) of SMEs were supportive of the policy exempting small businesses from requiring a health and safety representative and committee.

More information about employer obligations is available by visiting the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website here.

In addition, last Friday the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2016 came into force. It has the effect of outlawing “zero hour contracts” and means that should the employer and employee agree on the number of hours of work, those hours will need to be reflected in the employment agreement, although the parties do not have to agree on hours if both prefer flexibility.

The law also means employers cannot require employees to be available to work more than their agreed hours without reasonable compensation, cancel a shift without giving reasonable notice or compensation, unreasonably dock wages or arbitrarily restrict secondary employment.

Mr Gardiner says that contrary to perceived wisdom, local SME operators will be pleased to see the end of unfair zero hour contracts.

“Amongst those in the small business community, who are often extremely close to their employees, any legislation that allowed zero hours was extremely unpopular,” he says.

“Thirty-eight per cent of business operators surveyed in our Business Monitor survey said they opposed the previous legislation that allowed zero-hour contracts, while just fourteen per cent supported it.”

Friday also saw the extension of Paid Parental Leave from 16 to 18 weeks and changes to some of the flexibility rules and eligibility criteria of the scheme.

“The Government times workplace legislation to come in at the beginning of a new financial year. Many businesses have been busy with financial compliance issues, so they might not have caught up with what the changes mean for them,” says Mr Gardiner.

To help businesses understand the impact of the new legislation, MYOB has produced an online presentation and webcast with input from the Inland Revenue Department, myHR, PeopleSafe, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

This presentation is now available for businesses to view online in the MYOB Employer Essentials Seminar webcast.

Businesses can also register to download their free Essential Employer Guide at


For further comment or other information please contact:

Conor Roberts, MYOB NZ Communications and Public Affairs

M: 021 124 6004 / E:

Gerard Blank, The Agency Communications Limited Director

P: 03 341 5841 / M: 0275 243 629 / E:

About MYOB

MYOB (ASX:MYO) is a leading cloud based business management solutions provider. It makes business life easier for approximately 1.2 million businesses across Australia and New Zealand by simplifying accounting, payroll, tax, practice management, CRM, websites, job costing, inventory and more. MYOB provides ongoing support via many client service channels including a network of over 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and other consultants. It is committed to ongoing innovation, particularly in cloud computing solutions, and in 2015 was awarded the BRW award for the most innovative large company for 500+ employees and placed 2nd in BRW’s Most Innovative Companies Award list across all categories nationally.  For more information, visit or follow @MYOB on Twitter.

About the MYOB Business Monitor

The MYOB Business Monitor is a national survey of 1,000+ New Zealand small and medium business owners and managers, from sole traders to mid-sized companies, representing the major industry sectors. It has run since 2009, commissioned to independent market research firm Colmar Brunton. This most recent survey ran in February/March 2016. The Monitor researches business performance and attitudes in areas such as profitability, cash flow, pipeline, technology usage and the government. The weighting of respondents by both geographical location and sector is based on overall market proportions as established by Statistics New Zealand and is drawn from an independent survey group, which includes both MYOB clients and non-clients.