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Select committee against bill to limit use of KiwiSaver as part of pay package

The majority of the Finance and Expenditure Committee doesn’t think a bill to make it harder for employers to include KiwiSaver contributions in employees' pay should be passed.

Tuesday, July 2nd 2024, 6:12AM 3 Comments

by Andrea Malcolm

The Employment Relations (Protection of KiwiSaver Members) Amendment Bill introduced by Labour bank bencher Dr Tracey McLellan last year, aims to restore some financial protections originally given to KiwiSaver members by the Employment Relations Act 2000 and removed by the National government’s Employment Relations Amendment Act 2008.

Currently employers aren’t legally required to offer the same terms, salary or wages, conditions and or benefits to KiwiSaver members as non-members. Employers can also offset pay increases against workers’ KiwiSaver contributions and include KiwiSaver contributions as part of an employee’s total remuneration.

The Protection of KiwiSaver Member bill doesn’t seek to prohibit parties from agreeing to a total remuneration approach, but it would limit the situations in which it would be possible to use that approach.

At its first reading in parliament, the bill enjoyed wide support on both sides of the house with 109 “ayes” and 10 “noes” from the Act party.

However after select committee hearings,  the Finance and Expenditure Committee has reported back saying most of its members don’t think the bill should be passed.

"The Finance and Expenditure Committee has examined the Employment Relations (Protection for Kiwisaver Members) Amendment Bill. We have recommended changes to the bill to improve its workability. We recommend these amendments unanimously. However, the majority of the committee ultimately do not agree that the bill should be passed."

The report also notes that the National, Act and New Zealand First parties disagree with the bill.

“The National Party does not support the passage of the Employment Relations (Protection of Kiwisaver Members) Amendment Bill. While we support saving for retirement and the KiwiSaver scheme, the bill introduces uncertainty for employers by adding new grounds for personal grievances, potentially complicating existing employment relationships. We do not believe that imposing additional hurdles for businesses under the Employ‐ ment Relations Act benefits either employees or employers.”

Likewise NZ First and Act cited imposing additional hurdles for employers as the main reason.

Retirement Commissioner Jane Wrightson describes the report as Orwellian, in a LinkedIn post.

The Retirement Commission was one of 14 parties to make submissions on the bill.

It supported the bill saying that the total remuneration approach goes against the spirit of KiwiSaver, which incentivises employees to save small amounts over a longer term with employer support, and ultimately see them into a better retirement.

Removing total remuneration approaches was also one of the key recommendations in the Retirement Commission’s recent Opportunities to Improve KiwiSaver report. It was also a recommendation in 2019.

It’s not the first time the Commission has expressed concerns about the approach. Last year it surveyed more than 300 small, medium, and large organisations about the use of a total remuneration approach to KiwiSaver and found that 45% use the model for at least some employees. 

The findings showed that 25% of employers include employer KiwiSaver contributions as part of total remuneration. A further 20% adopt both approaches, paying some employees earnings plus KiwiSaver, and paying others earnings inclusive of KiwiSaver.

At the time Wrightston said it was not how KiwiSaver was designed to operate as the KiwiSaver Act clearly states that compulsory contributions must be paid on top of gross salary or wages except to the extent that parties otherwise agreed.

“However, it is not legislatively prohibited so long as the outcome is the result of good faith bargaining,” she said.

Tags: KiwiSaver

« KiwiSaver reform next steps - bail up a politician KiwiSaver highly competitive with much larger Aussie and British peers »

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Comments from our readers

On 3 July 2024 at 10:08 am w k said:
"except to the extent that parties otherwise agreed" ... that's the problem, to what extent? regulation should be crystal clear, isn't it? eg. compulsory employee contribution 8% + compulsory employer contribution 4%. can't it be as simple as that?

when regulations are written in such a way that they are subject to different interpretations, it will only benefit one party enormously.

employers have to get creative in the salary structure. eg. if their current salary scale is $50k without ks contribution. then when the compulsory 4% kicks in, revise the salary scale to $48k (add 4% ks contribution, the total wage bill is $50k, more or less). this way, it won't cause a dent in their wage budget. there's no loss to the employee, other than a slightly lower take home income.
On 11 July 2024 at 9:20 pm AlBean said:
This is the biggest head in the sand joke of all time. And a penalty to NZ workers compared to so many other countries…
Average KiwiSaver Balance in NZ is currently $31,823 as at May 22 2024
Average balance at Retirement in Australia was around $340k 2023
Employer contribution rate in Australia about to go to 12% next year, Personal contributions are taxed at 15% with a limit and salary sacrifice exists.

Do I really need to explain more?
1. Make it compulsory, come on!
2.:cheapskate employers
3. Not a chance of retiring comfortably for average salary and wage earner
4. Current and future Cost to taxpayers of supporting retired people
5. Medical cost to taxpayers of supporting retired people who can’t pay
6. Increase govt grant!
7. Reintroduction of startup payment!
8. Gradual increase of compulsory payments by both employers employees!
9. Payment to KiwiSaver accounts to those on childcare leave so they don’t miss out
9. Govt grant to all members regardless of contribution thereby helping to save costs to taxpayers at other end.

Yep,it all costs but the cost at the other end is so much more with an ever increasing retired population

Many more ideas from others please

Biggest eye roles ever to Politicians
On 12 July 2024 at 11:08 am w k said:
@AlBean, will be wasting our time to share ideas with them. tried many times, zilch interest. conclusion - they have their own agendas.

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