Simpson Grierson Partner Phillipa Muir says from 1 April 2017 all individual employment agreements need to comply with new requirements under the Employment Relations Act 2000.
She says collective employment agreements will only need to be updated when the collective agreement is replaced.
"The key changes relate to ‘zero-hour contracts’ - now referred to as availability provisions, secondary employment provisions, and cancellation of shifts for shift workers,” she says.
She notes that some legal commentators have recently said that an ‘hours of work’ clause in a salaried employee's agreement (requiring an employee to work additional hours if necessary to perform their role) is an ‘availability provision’, which would trigger several new requirements for employers.
"We disagree with this view. We do not believe that was what Parliament intended. Rather, the requirements relating to availability provisions are intended to apply to situations where an employee is required to be effectively "on-call" to work additional hours, without (until now) any guarantee of work.
"I urge employers to review their individual employment agreements and check to ensure that they are compliant by 1 April 2017,” she says.
Phillipa Muir says failure to do so could result in employers facing personal grievance claims, penalties, or being unable to enforce non-compliant clauses.