Employment Relations Act, 2000
Workers in New Zealand have traditionally been divided into two distinct groups: independent contractors and employees. Employees are protected by minimum statutory entitlements -in the main, the Employment Relations Act 2000 (“the Employment Relations Act”) -and can pursue these entitlements through various employment law institutions. Conversely, independent contractors can only rely on the protections afforded by the law of contract.
One of the principal changes made by the Employment Relations Act is an extension of the definition of “employee”. When considering whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court (“the Employment Institutions”) are now required to consider the real nature of the relationship between the parties. In making this determination, the Employment Institutions employ established legal tests, rather than merely accepting the label given to the relationship by the parties.