Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) Northern - Employment relations changes need to keep NZ competitive

Employment relations changes need to keep NZ competitive

25 Jan 2018
Proposed changes to the current employment relations legislation remove flexibility the EMA believes is required to compete internationally.

Announcements made today to amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 must enable employers and employees to have the flexibility to meet the growing demands of the future of work, not stifle it, says the EMA.

“We are part of the global economy. We need to be agile enough to remain competitive now and into the future. Flexible work arrangements, life-long learning and embracing technology all feed into growing our productivity,” says Kim Campbell, CEO, EMA.

That means being able to negotiate workplace agreements which balance the needs of employees with the needs of the operation he says.

“On the whole, our employers are good and recognise the importance of good workplace relations. The current framework for employers and employees to negotiate in good faith is clear, is robust and has worked well. There are hefty penalties if an employer is found in breach of the Act, along with facing irreparable reputational damage.

“Yet the impact of some of the changes announced today seem to imply that there is an imbalance that needs to be addressed.

“For instance, we are pleased to see the 90-day trial period will remain in its current format for businesses with fewer than 20 employees. But for those with more than 20 it would be unfortunate if larger businesses now choose not to take someone on.

“We know that 80% of businesses have used this in the past year. Employers say the trial period enables them to give someone a chance,” says Mr Campbell.

“The worst outcome of the government’s proposals would be if it made it more difficult for employers to recruit and retain staff. Rather, we want to see such changes enhance living standards by increasing productivity.

“As these proposed amendments now progress through the legislative process we look forward to actively engaging with government and providing input on behalf of the business community,” says Mr Campbell.

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