What laws have changed recently?
Below is a summary of law changes since our last newsletter in February. This includes the usual wave of law changes on 1 April and other law changes in March.
In case you missed it, we wrote up a summary of COVID-19 law changes in our 30 March article: The only constant is change: COVID-19 Response.
To keep updated on COVID-19 related developments as they happen, sign up to our free ComplyWatch COVID-19 change tracking tool.
The State of National Emergency Continues
The state of national emergency is now in force until 15 April 2020.
A state of national emergency expires 7 days after it is made but it can be extended. So far, it has been extended on 1 April 2020 and 7 April 2020 for 7-day periods.
While the state of national emergency is in force, the wide-ranging powers given to officials in a state of emergency will continue (for example powers to requisition vehicles, land, and buildings.)
Lots of change on 1 April 2020
- The minimum wage increased from $17.70 to $18.90 (and from $14.16 to $15.12 for starting-out workers and trainees).
- The annual student loan repayment threshold for the Student Loan Scheme Act increased from $19,760 to $20,020. A new obligation to reduce the standard deduction and then stop making deductions when notified by Inland Revenue that a borrower’s loan balance is close to zero was also added.
- Changes to the KiwiSaver Act include a new requirement to be met by employees before compulsory employer contributions are required and changes to allow grandparented members to opt out of the 5-year lock-in period.
- Tax changes include:
- A more comprehensive system of tax credits for eligible research and development activities, with most organisations needing to get Inland Revenue’s general approval of their research and development activities before the tax incentive can be claimed.
- Changes for payers of resident and non-resident passive income, including:
- New investment reporting requirements replace end-of-year RWT statements of payment, NRWT withholding certificates, and reconciliation statements
- ‘RWT-exempt status’ recorded in Inland Revenue’s electronic exemptions register replaces RWT exemption certificates
- Extended record-keeping requirements for payers of RWT and NRWT.
- Urgent changes as part of the response to COVID-19. These are explained in our previous article on COVID-19 law changes.
Other changes for certain sectors
Electricity and gas
- On 1 April 2020:
- The new default price-quality path for electricity distribution businesses (EDBs) came into force. It applies from 1 April 2020 until 31 March 2025
- The definition of ‘discount’ in the specification of price input methodologies was changed so that EDBs can include discounts offered before 27 November 2019 in their calculations of ‘forecast revenue from prices’ when demonstrating compliance with the price path
- The annual levy in the Energy Complaints Scheme changed to include a minimum levy of $50 per provider and adjustments to the fixed levies for Transpower and operators of gas transmission pipelines.
- On 1 March 2020:
- New electricity information exchange protocols (EIEPs) 13A, 13B, and 13C came into force and are regulated EIEPs
- Part 11 of the Code was changed to include processes for agents to request and receive consumer information from retailers.
On 1 April 2020, a new regulatory framework for vocational education and training (RoVE) was introduced when the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act 2020 came into force. Key changes include:
- Polytechnics became Crown entity subsidiaries of the newly created NZIST for a transition period, until they are merged into NZIST at a later date (currently 31 December 2022)
- The role of supporting workplace learning will shift from industry training organisations to providers, but this will be managed through a transition process
- New workforce development councils were created.
- On 1 April 2020, the prescribing requirements for medicinal cannabis products changed when the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulations 2019 came into force. Approved medicinal cannabis products can be prescribed without Ministerial approval.
For owners of cattle and deer
- On 27 March 2020, various timeframes in the National Animal Identification and Tracing Act were extended from 48 hours to 5 business days while the COVID-19 State of National Emergency is in force.
- On 1 March 2020, the controlled areas under the Bovine (National Bovine Tuberculosis Pest Management Plan) Order were changed.
What’s coming up?
- The new Privacy Act is now expected to come into force on 1 November 2020.
- New protections in the Employment Relations Act for employees in triangular employment arrangements come into force on 27 June 2020. This is where a person is employed by 1 employer but works under the control or direction of another organisation.
- Paid parental leave is extended from 22 weeks to 26 weeks on 1 July 2020.
- New provisions about high-cost consumer credit contracts in the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act come into force on 1 June 2020.
- New regulations for surgical procedures on animals under the Animal Welfare Act are expected to come into force on May 2020.