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New Rules around Health & Safety Representatives

Published 02 Aug 2023

The Health and Safety at Work (Health and Safety Representatives and Committees) Amendment Act ("the Act") is now law.

WorkSafe NZ have said the changes introduced support the idea that workers are best placed to identify how they want to engage with health and safety representation, by removing previous thresholds. The concept is to encourage worker engagement however possible.

Essentially the changes from the Act are 3 fold:
  • Workers can insist on a Health & Safety Representative (HSR)
  • 5 or more workers or a HSR can insist on a committee
  • Not being categorised as a "High Risk" operation is no longer a valid reason for declining a health and safety representative or committee.
Prior to this enactment a business with less than 20 staff could decline a request for a HSR or committee if they considered their current practices adequately safe. Furthermore, the business also had a 2 month window to respond to such a request.

So now, regardless of the size of your business, if your staff ask to have a Health & Safety Representative or committee subject to the above, the business must initiate an election process as soon as reasonably practicable. A breach of these HSWA obligations could result in a fine of up to $25,000.00 for a business.

Business owners should also bear in mind that a HSR is entitled to undertake employer funded training courses and up to 2 paid days per year to attend.