The adult minimum wage is increasing to $14.75 per hour effective 1 April 2015 ($0.50 increase per hour). The starting out and training minimum wage also increases on 1 April 2015 to $11.80 an hour.
The Adult Minimum Wage
The adult minimum wage applies to all workers aged 16 and over who are not starting-out workers or trainees, and all workers who are involved in supervising or training other employees.
The Starting-Out and Training Minimum Wages
The starting out wage is focused on:
- 16 and 17 year olds starting out in the workforce;
- 18 and 19 year olds who have been on a benefit for six months or more;
- 16 to 19 year olds in training in a recognised industry-training course involving at least 40 credits a year.
The training minimum wage applies to employees aged 20 years or over who are doing recognised industry training involving at least 60 credits a year in order to become qualified.
This year, the Easter period is between Friday 3 April and Monday 6 April 2015.
Good Friday and Easter Monday ARE Public Holidays
Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday are NOT Public Holidays.
If an employee works on a public holiday they are entitled to be paid time and a half for the hours they work and if it is an otherwise working day for the employee they are also entitled to a day in lieu.
We provide a wages service at Accounting Solutions Ltd and can do these for you, just give us a call on 03 374 9393 to discuss this further.
The changes below became effective from 6 March 2015:
Flexible Working Arrangements
Up until 6 March 2015, flexible working arrangements were only available to caregivers who had been employed at their work place for six months or more. Now, all employees will have the right to request flexible working arrangements. There's no limit on the number of requests an employee can make in a year. When employers receive requests for flexible work arrangements, they must respond within one month, rather than three as before. The response must be in writing, and if refused, must explain why.
Rest and Meal Breaks
Previously, rest and meal breaks were quite strict. The new changes mean that your employees are still entitled to breaks, and if it's not possible for you to ensure breaks for your employees, you must offer reasonable compensation. Employees and employers can't contract out of the right to rest and meal breaks though under some circumstances you might be exempt from giving breaks to your employees when it is reasonable. Basically, the new requirements are that both the employer and employees agree on whatever arrangements are put in place and that the arrangements are reasonable. For more information on this click HERE.
Continuity of Employment
This relates to employers in situations where they are restructuring or selling a business and employees are being transferred to the new employer.
The changes include set time frames for employees to elect to move to a new employer; the outgoing employer's obligation to provide the new employer with detailed information on employees and their entitlements; protection for employers from unjustified increases in employment costs; and provision for SMEs to be exempt.
Good Faith Provisions and Confidential Information
Changes have been made to the good faith provisions on what confidential information an employer has to give an employee. The employer must give the employee confidential information where it relates directly to them but does not have to provide confidential information on anyone else. Employers are not required to give confidential information to employees that must legally stay confidential or if there is good reason to keep the information confidential (ie. to protect the business' commercial position).
Employers will now be able to opt out of multi-employer bargaining from the start. New employees who are non-union members are no longer covered by terms and conditions of a collective agreement for the first 30 days of their employment. Employers may respond to partial strikes by imposing proportionate pay reductions and unions must provide advanced written notice of any proposed strikes and lockouts.
Employment Relations Authority Determinations
There are also changes to when and how the Employment Relations Authority must give preliminary findings and determinations following an investigation.
Generally, when an employer provides accommodation or pays an accommodation allowance to an employee it is a benefit allowance for the employee and is taxable.
The definition of "accommodation" has been clarified. Certain accommodation or accommodation payments may be tax exempt if:
- For out of town secondments for up to two years or capital projects for up to three years in distant work locations
- In connection with the Canterbury earthquake reconstruction projects
- An employee is required to work in multiple locations on an ongoing basis
- An employee is required to stay overnight to attend a meeting, training course or conference.
Some new rules have been added, including a special transitional rule for Canterbury earthquake recovery projects. You might need to prove the value of the accommodation, and there is a time limit on how long the allowances for some accommodation will be non-taxable.
If an employee works away from the normal office for up to 3 months and the employer pays meal allowances, this is exempt from tax for the employee under the new rules.
There are no changes to meal allowances for working overtime, ie. not taxable to the employee.
This is tax free to the employee for distinct work uniforms only.
From 1 April 2015, the KiwiSaver HomeStart Grant replaces the KiwiSaver first home deposit subsidy. Under the HomeStart grant, member tax credits will now be able to be withdrawn from KiwiSaver savings, which will now mean first home buyers are able to withdraw amounts from their KiwiSaver savings (except for the $1,000 kick start). It should also be easier for more people to buy a newly built home as the grant for newly built homes has increased from the previous level of the First Home Deposit Subsidy. House price caps which determine the eligibility for HomeStart grants and Welcome Home loans have also increased.
From 1 April 2015, the amount of child support some parents pay or receive may change. The Inland Revenue has a new formula for calculating child support which now includes both parents' incomes and circumstances, and recognises a wider range of care.
From 1 April 2015 the student loan living cost available will increase to a maximum of $176.86 per week.
To obtain the maximum allowance you must not earn more than $211.96 a week before tax (and you must meet all the other eligibility criteria).
If you are aged 18-23 and don't have children, the combined taxable income of both your parents in the last financial year must be under:
- $84,163.86 before tax (if you are living at home while studying)
- $91,448.30 before tax (if you are living away from home to study)
If you have a partner and children, your own and your partner's combined taxable income needs to be under $882.98 a week before tax. The allowance will reduce for every cent earned above this.
ACC levies will reduce from 1 April 2015.
The average levy paid by employers and self-employed people in Work Account levies will fall from 95 cents to 90 cents per $100 of liable earnings.
On 1 July 2015, the ACC vehicle licensing levy is being reduced. The cost of relicensing most vehicles will drop by around $130 a year. If you need to renew your vehicle's registration before then, you can save money by renewing your registration so that it expires in July 2015.
The reduced levies will apply to commercial and private light passenger vehicles, cars, utes and vans less than 40 years old and weighing less than 3,500kg. They will not apply to motorcycles or mopeds.
Paid Parental Leave
The current 14 weeks of paid parental leave will increase to 16 weeks for babies expected or born on or after 1 April 2015.
Parental Tax Credits
The Government will increase the paid parental tax credit from $150 a week to $220 a week, and extend the payment period from 8 weeks to 10 weeks.
The amount you receive also depends on the total family income before tax, the number of dependent children in your care and how old they are.
There are some other provisions with this too. If you would like further information on this please do not hesitate to give us a call.
Construction in the Canterbury area reached record levels in 2014 with the peak yet to come! Nearly $4 billion worth of construction work was done in the region last year, a record high and 38% more than in 2013.
The figures include more than $2.5 billion worth of home building, up $1.6 billion from the previous year!
34,000 jobs were created in Canterbury in 2014 and unemployment is running at 2.5%.
It is estimated that Canterbury will need to find 8,000 more construction workers for the peak of the rebuild in December 2016. It is predicted that the additions to the current workforce will mostly work on commercial projects or infrastructure.
The Small Business Sector Report for 2014 is developed jointly between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Statistics New Zealand. Some interesting facts from this report are:
- 97% of enterprises in the country have fewer than 20 employees
- 30% of the workforce is employed in small business
- Small businesses contribute to 28% of New Zealand's GDP
- On average, 50% of enterprises with 10-19 workers are still operating after 10 years
- Small businesses have higher staff turnover than larger firms
- Over the last 10 years, the number of self-employed aged 20-39 has steadily decreased, whereas this number increased for over-50s
- Limited experience in expanding overseas is the most common barrier to small businesses wanting to export