COVID-19: Further management measures introduced | Employment Law Update

The COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Bill (244—1) introduced today is an omnibus Bill that proposes amendments that will assist New Zealand to respond to the wide-ranging effects of COVID-19, including changes to enable businesses, local government and others to manage and mitigate the impacts of the response to COVID-19.

The Bill introduces two tiers of amendments. The first tier includes significant changes that will enable businesses, local government and others to more effectively manage the immediate impacts of the response to COVID-19 and mitigate unnecessary and potentially longer-term impacts on society. These amendments include:

  • changes to the insolvency and corporate law to increase the prospects of businesses surviving the COVID-19 response

  • changes to commercial property law to support businesses and commercial landlords to manage situations where, because of the impact of the response to COVID-19, businesses are unable to pay their rent and landlords are unable to meet their mortgage payments

  • changes to parental leave in order to allow workers entitled to parental leave to temporarily return to work to assist in response to COVID-19 without being disadvantaged by losing entitlements to leave and payments

  • changes to local government by-election timing that involve immediate changes to key time frames for current local government by-elections, establishing an Order-in-Council mechanism for making further changes to by-election timing, and enabling chief executives or local authorities to postpone any further by-elections

  • changes to the Gambling Act 2003 to allow, for a period of 18 months, the Countdown Kids Charitable Trust, National Heart Foundation of New Zealand and Royal New Zealand Coastguard Incorporated to send and receive forms and take payments for their lotteries online or by phone, and

  • changes to the Commerce Act 1986 to allow the Commerce Commission to authorise conduct that may technically breach the restrictions on cartel conduct but would be of such a benefit to the public that it should be permitted.

The second tier of amendments are minor changes that meet the following policy objectives. These include:

  • deferring new regulatory requirements that would increase burdens or where the government or businesses may no longer be ready to start by the planned date

  • deferring statutory deadlines and other minor exemptions where compliance is not possible or unreasonably burdensome

  • enabling fast-tracking of legislative powers to mitigate impracticability issues, and

  • mitigating problems with legislative compliance due to physical presence requirements and other technological reasons.