Australian employment laws vs. New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand are significant players in the South Pacific region when it comes to business performance and investment opportunity. The two countries are known for new business viability on a global scale but there are immense differences in Australian and New Zealand employment law.
Australian industries and sectors attract immensely innovative technological development and welcome foreign investment on a global scale, and New Zealand attracts many international companies wishing to expand into sectors that boast significant growth opportunities.
There’s no denying the two countries share some similarities when it comes to business, so you can be forgiven as a New Zealand company for thinking Australia shares the same employment laws. In fact, the two countries have very different employment laws, so expanding into Australia without doing significant research can be extremely risky. It’s a trap that’s easy to fall into.
The nuts and bolts
The Fair Work Act is where a lot of Australia’s employment law can be found, but not all of it. It touches on work, health and safety and anti-discrimination benchmarks. The Fair Work Act is New Zealand’s equivalent to the Employment Relations Act.
Like The Employment Relations Act, The Far Work Act is governed by the Fair Work Commission. This body dictates employment regulations, awards and enterprise agreements, and monitors company adherence countrywide. They also set the minimum wage each year, according to the previous year’s figures.
The Act sets the guidelines for employment contracts and states that all contracts must be written and signed and not orally communicated.
Australian and New Zealand employment law
When you employ someone on Australian soil, there’s a long list of regulations you must abide by to hire legally as a New Zealand business.
- Similarly, in New Zealand, Australia works to a 38-hour working week for full-time employees.
- Your staff are allowed to request flexible working hours if they’ve worked at the company for over 12 months. Employees in New Zealand can request flexible working hours as soon as their contract commences.
- The minimum wage in Australia as of June 2019 is $18.93AUD, which is slightly higher than that of New Zealand at $17.70NZD.
- In Australia, your employees are allowed 12 months of unpaid parental leave and an additional 12 months at the discretion of you as the employer. In New Zealand, workers are only entitled to 22 weeks of paid parental leave. This figure is set to increase to 26 weeks by July 2020.
- In Australia, full-time workers are entitled to a certain number of annual and paid leave days per year which differ slightly to New Zealand. The New Zealand government has made changes to leave entitlements which can be reviewed in full here.
- In Australia, employees are entitled to personal/sick leave. Unlike New Zealand, these don’t accrue at the end of employment.
- Australia does not have to adhere to the same domestic violence leave entitlements as New Zealand. New Zealand workers are entitled to 10 days of paid domestic violence leave and the right to request flexible working hours.
- Long service leave regulations differ from state to state in Australia. There is no legal requirement for employers to offer long service leave to their employees.
Another significant and differing aspect of Australian and New Zealand employment regulations are the trade unions. In both countries, union workers act as a negotiator between employers and employees.
As an international employer, it’s crucial to understand and respect the role of Australian unions as a completely different entity to that of New Zealand unions and the vital part they play in protecting workers in the workplace.
Such roles of an Australian union member include but are not limited to the following:
- In Australia, union members are allowed to enter a workplace to inspect safety standards only with proper government permits and approval. In New Zealand, union jurisdiction over entering a workplace is slightly less stringent.
- Both New Zealand and Australian union members play an essential role in investigating suspected breaches in safety law.
- Australian employers are allowed to request relevant documentation and employment records from you as the employer to ensure you’re adhering to all employment regulations.
- Australia and New Zealand share a very similar level of quality when it comes to conditions for international businesses entering the market concerning workplace laws and regulations. The countries are geographically close though, so characteristic differences in some rules mean you may must pay close attention to detail as a New Zealand Employer employing workers in Australia.
Are you a New Zealand business who want to expand into Australia?
Labour laws, foreign investment regulations and company formation in international markets can be overwhelming, regardless of how similar Australian and New Zealand employment law may seem.
If you’re finding it challenging to navigate through Australia’s complicated employment laws (see earlier blog Australian Employment laws vs. US for more info), or If you already have expanded into Australia from New Zealand and are unsure whether or not you’re following the rules, give us a call today for a no-obligation company audit.
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