sign up log in
Want to go ad-free? Find out how, here.

MBIE summarises the fifteen law changes that came into effect this year that apply to businesses, employers, landlords, property owners and managers

MBIE summarises the fifteen law changes that came into effect this year that apply to businesses, employers, landlords, property owners and managers

This article is a repost from MBIE's website.

From ACC levies to employment law and changes for residential property owners, check out this summary so you’re across any new rules that apply to you.

Changes for businesses


ACC levies dropping

When: 1 April 2019

What: Employers and self-employed people will on average pay 6.9% less for the ACC Work Account levy over the coming two years.

Why: The reduction comes after standard public consultation by the government.

What you need to do: You don’t need to do anything. ACC will update your levies for you.

ACC Work levies dropping

R&D tax incentive

When: From the beginning of the 2019/2020 income year. For most, this is 1 April 2019.

What: The R&D (research and development) tax incentive provides a tax credit at a rate of 15% of eligible R&D spend up to $120 million.

Why: To grow New Zealand’s investment in R&D.

What you need to do: If you’re currently doing R&D or thinking about it in the future, check your eligibility, make sure you keep records and enrol now.

R&D tax incentive: What’s eligible and how to claim

New rules for hazardous substances and wastes

When: 1 June 2019

What: New rules for the safe handling and storage of toxic and corrosive chemicals, under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Why: To help protect the health of workers from exposure to chemicals and hazardous wastes.

What you need to do: Make sure you meet new requirements.

New rules for hazardous substances and wastes

New rules for hazardous substance locations

When: 1 December 2019

What: New rules for certification of storage locations of toxic and corrosive chemicals, under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Why: To help protect the health of workers from exposure to chemicals.

What you need to do: Make sure you meet new requirements.

Location test certificates (external link) — WorkSafe

Ban on plastic bags

When: 1 July 2019

What: Single-use plastic shopping bags are banned for all businesses.

Why: To help reduce the amount of plastic in our environment.

What you need to do: Make sure you’re no longer using banned bags in your business. Encourage customers to bring their own bags. Switch to approved bags where you need to.

Ban on plastic bags

Upcoming privacy law changes

When: 2020

What: Changes to rules around collecting, storing and using personal information.

Why: To make sure personal information is kept safe and secure in line with new technology and ways of doing business.

What you need to do: Start preparing now by reviewing your systems for handling personal information, including an update of your privacy policy. If you use an overseas-based service provider, like cloud software, ask how they are meeting New Zealand privacy laws.

Get ready for upcoming privacy law changes

Changes to ACC levies for self-employed

When: From 2020 levy year

What: Changes to the way levies are calculated for self-employed or contractors on standard CoverPlus ACC (the automatic cover). This means the next levy invoice can be expected in mid-2020.

Why: To increase the accuracy of levies and reflect your actual earnings as filed with Inland Revenue.

What you need to do: If you’ve stopped trading, let ACC know. Otherwise, you don’t need to do anything.

Self-employed? Your ACC levy is most likely changing

Changes for employers


Changes to the Employment Relations Act

When: 6 May 2019

What: Changes include rest and meal breaks, 90-day trial periods, union representation, removal of pay deductions for partial strikes, collective bargaining, and protection against union discrimination.

Why: The changes restore protections for employees, especially vulnerable employees, and strengthen the role of collective bargaining and union rights in the workplace.

What you need to do:

  • Make sure employees are given at least the minimum rest and meal breaks.
  • If you have 20 or more employees, don’t include a clause about 90-day trial periods in your new employees’ employment agreements.
  • If you’re taking over a new business in a specified ‘vulnerable industry’, you’ll need to follow new rules when transitioning employees.
  • If your business is operating under collective employment agreements, you’ll want to review these agreements with your unions.

Changes to the Employment Relations Act 2018

Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 (external link) — Employment New Zealand

Domestic violence leave now available

When: 1 April 2019

What: Any employee who’s been affected by domestic violence can request paid leave from their employer — up to 10 days per year. This leave is separate from annual, sick, and bereavement leave. They can also request short-term flexible working arrangements.

Why: So that people affected by domestic violence can have time to deal with the effects of that violence.

What you need to do: Employers will need to consider the following requirements:

  • You won’t be able to discriminate against employees or job applicants because they’re actual or suspected victims of domestic violence.
  • You’ll need to allow employees who have been subjected to domestic violence at least 10 days of paid leave per year, and to consider flexible working arrangements.
  • It’s your responsibility to provide a safe workplace. This includes protection for people affected by domestic violence.

New law helps people affected by domestic violence

Rise in minimum wage

When: 1 April 2019

What: The new minimum wage rates, before tax, are:

  • Adult — $17.70 an hour (up from $16.50)
  • Starting-out — $14.16 an hour (up from $13.20)
  • Training — $14.16 an hour (up from $13.20)

Starting-out and training minimum wages are 80% of the adult minimum wage.

Why: Government must by law review the minimum wage rates every year.

What you need to do: If your employment agreements are a few years old, use this as a chance to update them using our Employment Agreement Builder. It’s a legal requirement to have a written employment agreement with all your staff.

Minimum wage rises by $1.20 on 1 April 2019

Employment Agreement Builder (external link)

Payday filing

When: 1 April 2019

What: Changes to how you file your PAYE tax and ESCT.

Why: To simplify tax processes.

What you need to do: If you’re a New Zealand employer paying more than $50,000 PAYE and Employer Superannuation Contribution Tax (ESCT) per year, you’ll have to file electronically within two working days of the payday through payroll software or myIR.

If your total PAYE/ESCT is less than $50,000 for the previous year ended 31 March 2018, you can either:

  • file online within two working days of each payday, or
  • file on paper twice a month within 10 working days of the 15th and end of the month.

Payday filing starts 1 April

Changes to parental leave payments

When: 1 July 2019

What: Maximum weekly rate of parental leave payments increased to $585.80 per week before tax. The minimum rate for self-employed persons increased to $177 per week.

Why: Each year, the parental leave payment is adjusted to reflect the rise in the average wage.

What you need to do: You don’t need to do anything, but it is good for you to be aware. Payments are determined and managed by Inland Revenue.

Pay bump for new parents (external link) — Employment New Zealand

Changes for landlords, property owners and managers


Healthy homes standards

When: New requirements come into effect in stages from 1 July 2019 – 1 July 2024.

What: New minimum standards for rental properties to improve heating, insulation, ventilation and drainage, stop draughts and reduce moisture entering the premises from outside.

Why: To make rental homes warmer, drier and healthier.

What you need to do: Meet requirements for 1 July 2019 for insulation, record keeping and signed statements. Get familiar with the requirements that will be coming over the next three years.

Rental properties: New laws now in effect

Changes to natural disaster cover

When: 1 February 2019 and 1 July 2019

What: Changes to the EQC Act for residential property owners and landlords who have a current private insurance policy for their home that includes fire insurance.

Why: EQC has incorporated lessons learned from the Canterbury earthquakes and other events. The changes are aimed at improving the EQC claim management process and customer experience.

What you need to do: Talk to your insurance provider or broker about home or contents coverage for your residential property. If you have tenants, they’ll want to check their insurance policies as well.

Law changes: Natural disaster cover for landlords and tenants

Changes to Residential Tenancies Act

When: 27 August 2019

What: Changes address the following issues:

  • liability for damage to rental properties caused by a tenant
  • methamphetamine contamination in rental properties
  • rental premises that are unlawful for residential use, such as garages and sleep-outs.

What you need to do: You must provide a statement informing your tenants that a copy of each insurance policy that relates to the tenant’s liability for property damage is available on request. This ensures tenants are aware of anything the policy doesn’t cover or anything they might do that would make that policy invalid.

Law updates for landlords and tenants

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


I'm pretty sure there were a whole lot more than 15 law changes this year.


The law! Long ago a then eminent QC advised me, don’t ever expect justice from the law. Since then have discovered for myself that much that is legal is immoral and much that is moral, is illegal.