Updates to Employment and Privacy Laws

Updates to Employment and Privacy Laws

New Privacy laws are addressing Cloud / Dropbox storage, massive data-collection houses, and changing technologies

Privacy laws are finally being bought up to date with the changing face of personal data storage and collection, currently occurring in New Zealand and globally.

The Privacy Bill has been reviewed by the Justice Select Committee, and is in the final stages of revision.  It is expected that the new Privacy Act will be finalised and come into force in the next 6 – 12 months.  It is hoped that the changes will bring NZ laws more in line with similar laws in the UK and Australia.

The key changes in Privacy laws focus on how personal information is stored, where it is stored, and obligations on businesses and employers to protect personal information, including where there is an overseas server.

Key changes include:

  1. A mandatory reporting regime: There is an introduction of a mandatory reporting regime which means business will be required to report all data breaches that could cause ‘serious harm’. The definition of ‘serious harm’ is currently being reviewed. 
  2. Consumers will be able to make an ‘access request’ from any business to confirm what data the business holds about them. There are likely to be strict timeframes for a response.
  3. If a business fails to report a privacy breach, or fails to adhere to the timeframes, it could be criminally liable and could incur a fine of up to $10,000.
  4. Cross-border data flow protections: New Zealand companies will need to review where their data is held. If any data is held overseas for example on a server in America or Europe, the New Zealand business will need to inquire as to whether that country has comparable privacy laws and protections for data as in New Zealand.  The New Zealand company will be liable for any data breaches made by the data hosting company overseas.

This area of law needs to develop rapidly to catch up to the mega data storage and collection of personal information by companies like Facebook and Google.  At the moment it is unclear what legal protections people have regarding that information, or what protections they will have in the future around their own personal information currently being captured and stored.

Updates on incoming employment law changes

  1. The Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Act 2019 has received Royal Assent, to come into force in the upcoming year.  This will mean workers who work on projects through labour hire companies can bring personal grievances against both the labour hire company as well as the host company, even though there is no contractual relationship between the worker and the host company.

This is quite a new development in employment law, which aims to widen employment protections to cover the ever-changing landscape of labour hire and contractor workers.

  1. Employment Relations (Infringement Offences) Regulations 2019 are now in force.  This means Labour Inspectors have the power to issue a $1,000 infringement fee, similar to a spot fine, for any employer who has not provided an employee with a written employment agreement.

If you would like some assistance in drafting an employment agreement for your employees, or would like advice regarding the above law changes, you can contact our employment law expert, Catherine Pendleton on (09) 486 2168 or catherine.pendleton@turnerhopkins.co.nz

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