The past week has seen changes to parental leave entitlements, new privacy laws and the introduction of a new bill to reform our whistle-blowing legislation.
Parental Leave Entitlements
In 2017, the government passed legislation to incrementally increase the period of paid parental leave. From 1 July 2020, employees taking parental leave are now entitled to 26 weeks of paid parental leave, up from 22 weeks.
The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety has announced that the maximum weekly payment will also increase by an additional $20 per week, up to a maximum of $606.46 before tax. The amendments can be found here.
Privacy Act Overhaul
After 27 years the Privacy Act 1993 will be replaced with new legislation, which is intended to ensure our privacy laws are capable of dealing with the challenges of the digital age. The new Act, which comes into force on 1 December 2020, will increase the powers of the Privacy Commissioner and create new offences and obligations on employers.
Importantly the new Privacy Act creates a mandatory obligation on an agency to notify both the Privacy Commissioner, and any affected individual, where there has been a privacy breach which is likely to result in serious harm. The Commissioner can also impose fines of up to $10,000 against any person who obstructs, hinders or resists the Commissioner in the exercise of their powers under the Act. See the new act here.
Whistle Blower Legislation
Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins has introduced a bill to Parliament that would repeal and replace the Protected Disclosures Act. The Minister said that the current legislation, which is over 20 years old, is not working as it should.
The proposed bill would allow serious wrongdoing to be disclosed to an external authority and increase the protection for disclosers by outlining the steps someone who receives a protected disclosure should follow. It would also require public sector organisations to provide more support for whistle-blowers. See the proposed bill here.
If you have any questions or concerns about your obligations in this respect, please contact us.