Matariki and Fair Pay Agreements


Te Pire mō te Hararei Tūmatanui o te Kāhui o Matariki (Te Kāhui o Matariki Public Holiday Bill) received Royal Assent yesterday, and the new Act comes into force today – 12 April 2022.

The Act provides for the creation of a twelfth public holiday to celebrate Matariki – a star cluster, the rising of which marks the beginning of the new year in maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar. 

The preliminary provisions of the Act explain the significance of Matariki in te ao Māori and reflect that “Matariki is a time to gather, to acknowledge those who have passed, to celebrate the present, and to plan for the future.  Matariki is the star of the Māori New Year.”

Matariki (like Easter) is not a fixed date but moves between June and July – with dates scheduled up until 2052.  This year, the public holiday falls on Friday 24 June. 

The public holiday will apply to everyone, regardless of whether it is provided for in employment agreements – however, you may wish to update agreements to include this new public holiday.  If you haven’t had your agreement checked for a while, now would be a good time!  We are happy to review and update agreements for this, and any other recent changes required by statute or recommended as a result of case law.

Fair Pay Agreements

The hotly anticipated Fair Pay Agreements Bill has recently been introduced to Parliament and is now before Select Committee.  It has been described by commentators as the most far-reaching workplace reform since the Employment Contracts Act in 1991, and (as you would expect) is already being fiercely debated.

The Bill proposes a framework of collective bargaining to set minimum employment standards across entire industries and occupations – with MBIE suggesting that this will result in higher pay, better hours of work, health and safety, training, and worker input in decision making.

Essentially, unions will be able to initiate bargaining for a Fair Pay Agreement that would cover an entire sector – e.g. all supermarket workers, or all aged residential care workers, providing that the union represents at least 10% of all workers in the sector (or at least 1000 workers in the sector). 

Unions and employer representatives then must negotiate in good faith for a Fair Pay Agreement, which must include a number of things – most notably, base rates and penal/overtime rates.

Once an Agreement is reached, it is ratified by a majority of workers and employers that would be covered by it.  There is also a process whereby the Agreement (or proposed Agreement) can go to the Employment Relations Authority for an arbitrated settlement.

Submissions on the Fair Pay Agreements Bill can be made up until 19 May 2022 – see here for more information.  We will also be covering this topic at our next client webinar in early May.  Watch this space for the date of this upcoming event!

If you have any questions please get in touch with our Employment Team or your usual contact at Hesketh Henry.

Disclaimer:  The information contained in this article is current at the date of publishing and is of a general nature.  It should be used as a guide only and not as a substitute for obtaining legal advice.  Specific legal advice should be sought where required.

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Media contact - Kerry Browne
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