Laws that changed in 2017

From contractors’ tax to Easter trading, hazardous substances to ACC levy changes and more, it’s been a big year for business-related law changes. Here’s a summary — check it out to make sure you are across any new rules that apply to you. Each law change section has links to more information.

Minimum wage rates rise

When: 1 April 2017

What: The adult minimum wage rate went up 50c to $15.75 an hour. The starting-out and training rates rose by 40c to $12.60.

What you need to do: If you pay your workers minimum wage rates, you should have already updated your payroll and their employment agreements. If any workers are on starting-out or training wages, now is a good time to check when they’ll be eligible to move onto the adult rate.

Tax for contractors

When: 1 April 2017

What: All contractors can have tax deducted from their pay at a rate of their choosing. New Zealand tax residents can pick any rate from 10% up to 100%.

This is compulsory for all contractors hired by a recruiter — or other labour hire business — and those under previous schedular payment rules. Other contractors can opt in if their payer agrees to deduct tax on their behalf.

What contractors need to do: Fill out the new tax form (IR330C) if either:

  • You are hired and paid through a recruiter — otherwise you’ll have tax deducted at 45%.
  • You were previously under schedular payment rules and want to change the rate of tax deducted.
  • You start a new contract covered under the new schedular payment rules.
  • You work directly for a business, would like tax deducted from your pay, and your payer agrees.

Tax rate notification for contractors (IR330C) (external link) — Inland Revenue

What employers need to do: Give contractors the new tax form (IR330C) if either:

  • They ask you to deduct tax from their pay and you agree.
  • You previously hired contractors under the scheduler payment rules and they want to choose the tax rate they pay.
  • You are a labour hire business, eg recruitment agency, and must deduct tax from their pay.

Update your payroll and add these contractors to your employer monthly schedule (EMS).


Interest charges for underpaying provisional tax will change from 1 April 2018 — fewer people will have to pay it.

Interest charges for underpaying provisional tax will change from 1 April 2018 — fewer people will have to pay it.

ACC levy changes

Cheaper Work levies

When: Levy period 2017-2019, starting 1 April 2017

What: Whether you’re an employer or self-employed, Work levies went down by an average 10% over the next two years, compared to 2016/17 rates.

What you need to do: Nothing. ACC will calculate your new levy, which will be in your next invoice.

But to help plan your budget, it’s a good idea to check what your new levy is likely to be, using ACC’s online calculators and downloading the levy guidebook.

Levy calculators (external link)   — ACC

ACC safety discount ends

When: 1 April 2017

What: ACC’s Workplace Safety Discount (WSD) for small businesses and self-employed people is no longer offered now new health and safety laws are in place.

What you need to do: Nothing. If you’re on the WSD programme, your discount will continue until its expiry date.

Motor vehicle levies fall

When: Levy period 2017-2019, starting 1 July 2017

What: The average Motor Vehicle levy, which includes the ACC levy portion of the rego and the petrol levy, fell by 12.5% — from $130.26 to $113.94 a vehicle — on 1 July 2017. The petrol levy component fell from 6.9 cents to 6c a litre — a 13% reduction.

What you need to do: Nothing. ACC will calculate your new Motor Vehicle levy and this will be included in your next rego payment.

Shops trading on Easter Sunday

When: Easter 2017

What: Local councils may let shops in their district open on Easter Sunday. But employees can choose whether to work that day.

What you need to do: If you are a shop owner, check with your local council if you can open on Easter Sunday — in 2018, it’s on 1 April. If you decide to open, you must give staff written notice of their right to refuse to work at least four weeks’ in advance but no more than eight weeks before Easter Sunday. This means giving written notice between 4 February and 4 March in 2018.

Restricted shop trading tool (external link) — Employment New Zealand

Parental leave payments

When: 1 June 2017

What: Parents who want to get parental leave payments can choose to first use other types of paid leave they are entitled to, eg:

  • annual leave
  • alternative days
  • special leave
  • time off in lieu.

They can choose to start their 18-week parental leave payment period once they have taken other types of paid leave — even if this is after the child’s arrival. Previously the parental leave payment period couldn’t start later than the child’s arrival.

What you need to do: Make sure you know the new rules if either you or an eligible worker is expecting a baby, or is taking on permanent responsibility for a child under six years old.

Parental leave scenarios: Who can and can’t take it (external link) — Employment New Zealand

Premature babies

When: 1 June 2017

What: If a working parent is applying for or getting parental leave payments and their baby arrives before the end of 36 weeks’ pregnancy, they can get:

  • preterm baby payments for up to 13 weeks
  • parental leave payments when they go back on parental leave — if it’s no later than the original expected due date.

Visas for migrant workers

When: From 28 August 2017

What: For Essential Skills visa-holders paid less than 85% of the median wage with jobs classed as lower-skilled, new conditions include:

  • After working in New Zealand for three years, they must leave the country for a 12-month stand-down period before they can be granted another lower-skilled work visa.
  • Their family members need their own visas to enter New Zealand.

What you’ll need to do: If you employ someone from overseas, or are thinking about it, check if the job you offer and the amount you pay will affect their visa conditions. For those already in New Zealand on a work visa, the three-year limit will start from the date of their next lower-skilled Essential Skills visa issued after 28 August 2017.

Hazardous substances

When: 1 December 2017

What: New regulations for the safe handling and management of hazardous substances in the workplace. All businesses that make, handle, use or store hazardous substances are expected to ensure people know what substances they are working with, the risks they pose, and how to manage those risks.

What you’ll need to do: Check the new requirements for the safe manufacture, use, handling, storage and disposal of hazardous substances. If you are complying with the current rules, then you may not need to change a lot. Read our article on this law change — there’s a 10-step list to work through.

Hazardous Substances Toolbox (external link) — WorkSafe