Employment relations shake-up has industry on edge

New Zealand Security Magazine, February-March 2019

Employment relations shake up
Big pay and conditions challenges facing security services providers in 2019.

Along with increases to the minimum wage, the security industry now faces targeting as a test ground for Fair Pay Agreements as it also braces for the impacts of the new Employment Relations Amendment Act. Nicholas Dynon reports.

Fair Pay Agreements 

A Working Group chaired by former National Prime Minister Jim Bolger is set to deliver its recommendations to the Government on the imposition of Fair Pay Agreements. The Agreements would set minimum terms and conditions for all workers in an entire industry or occupation. 

“The aim of FPAs is to prevent a race to the bottom, where some employers are undercut by others who reduce costs through low wages and poor conditions of employment,” stated Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees Galloway in a press release.

The National Party has recently claimed that the Government Working Group is proposing that a Fair Pay Agreement covering all of an industry can be triggered where 10 percent of – or at least 1,000 – workers within that industry request it, whichever is lower. Remuneration will likely be above the minimum wage.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that her government will move one or two industries onto a Fair Pay Agreement in its first term of government. Speculation is that those industries will be private security and bus drivers.

There remains much speculation as to what FPAs might look like, and to what extent coalition partners New Zealand First might seek to influence this. “There are a lot of things still up in the air politically,” commented NZSA CEO Gary Morrison.

Employment Relations Amendment Act

A slew of employment relations changes are being rolled out over the first half of 2019 as the new act takes effect in two stages: 12 December 2018 and 6 May 2019. Many of the changes will be familiar to employers, as they represent a roll back to a pre-2015 legislative context.

Among the changes that will come into effect on May 6th is the restoration of the right to set rest and meal breaks, the number and duration of which depends on the hours worked. 

Under the new rules, an eight-hour work day, for example, must include two 10-minute rest breaks and one 30-minute meal break, while a four-hour work day must include one 10-minute rest break. 

The Act will also allow employers and employees to agree to take breaks in a different manner than prescribed or to have agreed compensatory measures for those breaks.

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It will also provide exemption from the rest and meal break requirement to those engaged in the protection of New Zealand’s national security, where continuity of service is critical to national security and where the costs and risks in replacing the employee during the rest or meal break are too great.

The NZSA has sought clarification from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) in relation to whether the term “national security” in this regard includes private security staff licensed under the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Act.

So far, the indicators are that employees engaged in the private security industry are not considered to be engaged in the protection of New Zealand’s national security for the purposes of the meal break requirement exemption. 

Those that are likely to be covered are government employees working for central agencies such as the Government Communications Security Bureau and New Zealand Security Intelligence Service. 

The meal-break requirement is set to impact significantly on the industry, with logistical challenges for rosterers the tip of the iceberg. The NZSA has noted concerns from within its membership in relation to the feasibility of the changes and the non-acknowledgement of the industry’s national security role.

NZSM understands that the Association will meet with senior policy officials at MBIE and also the Minister of Justice during February to discuss the potential changes and their industry impact.


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