What does it mean for workers?
The term ‘worker’ is defined widely and includes, but is not limited to, employees, contractors & sub-contractors and their employees, labour hire company employees who have been assigned, students and volunteers.
Two key features affect workers:
What does it mean for business owners?
The Act introduces the term ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (‘PCBU’). This is another wide term which is intended to apply to a broad range of business arrangements.
Some key obligations of the PCBU are:
There will be a growing focus on enforcement, along with increased penalties for non-compliance. Any insurance that a company may hold against fines will also have no effect. No businesses, regardless of the size or level of risk, are exempt from the obligations in the Act.
What does it mean for officers of the PCBUs?
An ‘Officer’ includes, but is not limited to, directors of a company, partners of a partnership, and any person who is in a position to exercise significant influence over the management of the business.
Officers will now be personally liable for failing to exercise due diligence in ensuring that the business is complying with health & safety regulations, even if they were not directly involved in making the decision which contravenes the Act.
Interestingly, Peter Jackson recently resigned as a director of Weta Workshop – apparently due to the level of director involvement that this new Act will encourage. The increased level of personal liability is daunting for those directors who do not, or cannot, take a hands-on approach.
When do the changes come into force?
This Act takes effect on 4 April 2016. Work Safe New Zealand will provide information on the new legislation to businesses in an attempt to make the transition as seamless as possible. Contact us for more specific advice if you think any of these changes may affect you or your business.