Seven legislation changes you should be aware of
We think it’s important to pass on some of the more important legislative changes in and around the HR field so you can ensure your procedures are up to date. Please note this article is not intended as legal advice. If you feel that any of these changes may affect you and your team, we recommend consulting your legal team.
Here are a few of the major changes in Australia and New Zealand from the last quarter.
Single Touch Payroll (Australia)
In September, the Single Touch Payroll system received Royal Assent, meaning it’s time to begin preparing your systems for a new and more efficient reporting process for tax and superannuation information. Employers can begin switching over to Single Touch Payroll from 1 July 2017. From 1 July 2018, all businesses with 20 employees or more will be required to use the new system. For smaller businesses, a pilot program will soon be announced, so keep an ear out.
Protected Earnings Amount (Australia)
Adjusted on 1 January each year, the Protected Earnings Amount is the part of a person’s wage that is exempt from child support deductions. As of the beginning of 2017, the weekly rate is $358.05, the fortnightly rate is $716.10, the four-weekly rate is $1432.20 and the monthly period rate is $1556.88.
Taxing temporary holidaymakers (Australia)
As of 1 January 2017, working holidaymakers will be taxed at 15% from every dollar earned up to $37,000. After that, ordinary tax rates apply. To withhold tax at this correct rate, employers must register with the ATO by the 31 January 2017. If they do not, they will be required to withhold tax at the rate of 32.5%.
Tax band widened (Australia)
As of 1 October 2016, the 32.5% tax threshold (34.5% with Medicare levy), rose from $37,001-$80,000 to $37,001-$87,000.
Proof of sickness or injury (New Zealand)
The Holidays Act previously stated that a ‘medical practitioner’ had to provide a certificate as proof of sickness or injury. As of early November 2016, the certificate simply needs to come from a ‘health practitioner’ – a person who is, or is deemed to be, registered as a practitioner of a particular health profession. This means sick leave entitlements may be claimed with a note from a wider group of practitioners, not just doctors – a fact that payroll staff calculating sick leave days need to be aware of.
Parental leave for parents of preterm babies (New Zealand)
Preterm births can complicate parental leave payments, so a Bill has been announced to provide some clarity. The Bill provides that if a primary carer of a preterm baby decides to forgo some or all of their preterm baby payments and instead returns to work (meaning they come back to work after the birth of the child but before their parental leave was originally anticipated to begin), their paid parental leave period begins either when they decide to begin parental leave, or by the child’s original date of birth.
Note this Bill has not yet been enacted, but is something to be aware of.