Revision holiday law delayed again

The biggest overhaul of holiday laws in two decades has been further delayed and will now not take place before this year’s general election.

In 2021, the government said last year that the new law would be passed, but that was delayed and has now been postponed again.

Resolving breaches of today’s complex law has cost employers hundreds of millions of dollars.

In a new payout development, public hospitals now say they will begin paying back current staff from July this year.

As of November, the hospitals’ collective liability to 270,000 current and former employees was estimated at nearly $2 billion.

Health NZ had not provided an updated figure by the end of Friday.

The law update is still expected to be submitted to parliament as a bill in the middle of the year.

But the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said there would be no time to approve it before the election.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood said this was due to the “highly technical and complex nature of the bill”.

“The bill is very complex and will have far-reaching implications for the economy and so we are ensuring that there is a full and robust selection committee process.

This means that the bill will not be passed during this parliamentary term.

“Companies and employees need as much clarity as possible given the problems with the current holiday law, so we are taking the ‘measure twice, cut’ approach.”

The new laws are expected to change the way vacation pay and leave entitlements are calculated.

The process has been glacial since 2018, frustrating Payroll Practitioners Association CEO David Jenkins, who is also skeptical about the workability of the new law.

He had written to the ministry warning that he did not believe “the approach can provide what is needed to solve the complexities of the holiday law by becoming simpler and more usable in payroll and payroll software”.

“Whether we actually get a new law depends on who the government is after the October election,” Jenkins said in an online post.

He heard from the industry that the select committee process surrounding the bill could take up to a year, he said.

The election will take place on October 14.