Laws that changed in 2017

From contractors’ tax to hazardous substances to ACC levy changes, it’s been a big year for business-related law changes.

Minimum wage rates rise

When: 1 April 2017
What: The adult minimum wage rate went up 50c to $15.75 an hour. The starting-out and training rates rose by 40c to $12.60.

If you pay your workers minimum wage rates, you should have already updated your payroll and their employment agreements. If any workers are on starting-out or training wages, now is a good time to check when they’ll be eligible to move onto the adult rate.

Note: The minimum wage will increase again by 75 cents to $16.50 per hour on 1 April 2018.

Tax for contractors

When: 1 April 2017
What: All contractors can have tax deducted from their pay at a rate of their choosing. New Zealand tax residents can pick any rate from 10% up to 100%.

This is compulsory for all contractors hired by a recruiter — or other labour hire business — and those under previous schedular payment rules. Other contractors can opt in if their payer agrees to deduct tax on their behalf.

ACC levy changes
Cheaper Work levies

When: Levy period 2017-2019, starting 1 April 2017
What: Whether you’re an employer or self-employed, Work levies went down by an average 10% over the next two years, compared to 2016/17 rates.

ACC safety discount ends

When: 1 April 2017
What: ACC’s Workplace Safety Discount (WSD) for small businesses and self-employed people is no longer offered now new health and safety laws are in place.

Motor vehicle levies fall

When: Levy period 2017-2019, starting 1 July 2017
What: The average Motor Vehicle levy, which includes the ACC levy portion of the rego and the petrol levy, fell by 12.5% — from $130.26 to $113.94 a vehicle — on 1 July 2017. The petrol levy component fell from 6.9 cents to 6c a litre — a 13% reduction.

Parental leave payments

When: 1 June 2017
What: Parents who want to get parental leave payments can choose to first use other types of paid leave they are entitled to, eg:

  • annual leave
  • alternative days
  • special leave
  • time off in lieu.

They can choose to start their 18-week parental leave payment period once they have taken other types of paid leave — even if this is after the child’s arrival. Previously the parental leave payment period couldn’t start later than the child’s arrival.

Note: On 1 July 2018 paid parental leave will extend to 22 weeks. That will be increased to 26 weeks in 2020.

Visas for migrant workers

When: From 28 August 2017
What: For Essential Skills visa-holders paid less than 85% of the median wage with jobs classed as lowerskilled, new conditions include:

  • After working in New Zealand for three years, they must leave the country for a 12-month stand-down period before they can be granted another lowerskilled work visa
  • Their family members need their own visas to enter New Zealand.

Hazardous substances

When: 1 December 2017
What: New regulations for the safe handling and management of hazardous substances in the workplace. All businesses that make, handle, use or store hazardous substances are expected to ensure people know what substances they are working with, the risks they pose, and how to manage those risks.

What you’ll need to do: Check the new requirements for the safe manufacture, use, handling, storage and disposal of hazardous substances. If you are complying with the current rules, then you may not need to change a lot. Read the article on this law change — there’s a 10-step list to work through. For more information go to www.hazardoussubstances.govt.nz