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The new year is always a time for change. A change of habits, a change in focus, and a change in the goals that you have set for yourself and your business. But that is not the only things that are set to change in 2018. The government recently announced some key changes to employment law for 2018…..

2018 Employment Law Changes …

1: Minimum Wage Increase

From 1st April, minimum wage will raise to $16.50 per hour. That means that you will need to have all of the correct arrangements in place to be paying any minimum wage staff at this rate come 1st April.

This may raise questions around pay increases from staff who are sitting just above the minimum wage level. Especially as the government have indicated that they want to ensure all employees in the core public service are paid the living wage.

2: Restoring guaranteed rest and meal breaks for employees

The new bill looks to remove the flexibility that employers and employees currently have when it comes to rest and meal breaks.  Providing rest and meal breaks will become compulsory and with stricter criteria around exemptions. .

3: Extended Paid Parental Leave

Paid parental leave is due to increase from 18 to 22 weeks by 1st June with a further increase to 26 weeks by 2020. This is likely to stir up further discussions on the balancing act of attracting women to senior job roles, and handling maternity leave for those that are already in these roles.

4: Collective Bargaining

The rights for employees to collectively bargain is set to strengthen. Labour have announced that they will reinstate the need for employers to conclude bargaining in good faith and employers are unable to opt out of multi-employer collective agreements.

There will also be a greater visibility on union activities. There will be a requirement to include pay rates in collective agreements. Delegates are set to receive reasonable paid time when representing other workers, a requirement for employers to pass on union details to prospective employees, and greater protection for discrimination against union members. We suspect to see a rise in union members when this legislation comes through.

5: Modified Trial Periods

The Labour Government have announced that only businesses with fewer than 20 employees will be able to offer trial periods for new employees. All businesses that employ more than 20 people are still able to offer a probation period which does not include the right for unjustified dismissal. It will be interesting to see what this means for employer’s confidence when sourcing new staff.

6: Reinstatement Reinstated

After its removal in 2011, Reinstatement will be reinstated as a primary remedy to unfair dismissal in 2018. While we don’t imagine many employees will actually be reinstated as a result, it can be used as bargaining power by employees in their negotiations with their former employers.

The newly announced employment law changes is a lengthy one. The bill is expected to have it’s first reading in early February. 2018 is certainly going to be an interesting year for employers. So, if you are at all worried about your position, your processes, or your employees, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at In2HR. We are happy to offer advice and guidance to allow you to put your best foot forward this year.

Alternatively, learn more about your current Employer Obligations and Rights through our Employ with Confidence program – Employers Online Guide to HR success.