Story image

Govt aims for fairer wages, higher bargaining power with new employment legislation

30 Jan 2018

Workplaces are set to be dramatically impacted following the Government’s employment law announcement on Thursday.

A new Bill to amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 has been announced, designed to provide greater protections to workers, especially vulnerable workers, and strengthen the role of collective bargaining in the workplace to ensure fair wages and conditions.

Workplace specialist firm Employsure managing director Jen Tweed says, “The changes announced are in line with expectations set during the campaign, but demonstrate some shifting of election policy. The proposed amendments are the first step in the Government’s fulfilment of its commitment to employment relations reform.” 
 

90-day trial periods

The Government announced it has moved from its election run platform to end 90-day trial periods at the request of New Zealand First over fears vulnerable workers were being exploited.

Tweed says there has been no evidence to suggest this was the case.

“We hear from SME and large business clients that the 90-day trial periods allow them to fill roles quicker and minimise the risk of unjustified dismissals as they assess cultural fit and if the employee has the right skills for their business growth.” 

Under the proposed amendment bill, 90-day trial periods for new workers will only be available to businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

“It’s a win for small business,” she says. 

“90-day trial periods allow small business employers to employ people without risk because they don’t have the infrastructure to get into complex employment situations that could make them reluctant to take risks when employing new staff.”

Wages

The Government also announced new collective bargaining powers towards guaranteeing pay and conditions for employees.

Tweed says, “Following from recent cases in this area, New Zealand’s employment framework is beginning to shift towards a system that will limit an employer’s ability to set their wages. With Fair Pay Agreements still on the card, this remains an area to watch.”

Workplace relations and safety minister Iain Lees-Galloway says too many working New Zealanders are missing out on the benefits of economic growth under the current employment relations system.

He adds that this legislation is the Government’s first step in creating a highly skilled and innovative economy that provides good jobs, decent work conditions, and fair wages.

Union Rights and collective bargaining

While not entirely unexpected, the proposed amendments to collective bargaining and union rights in the workplace signal a shift in the landscape for union involvement. 

“Balanced and constructive engagement between employers and unions can be positive for everyone,” says Tweed. 

“Maintaining this balance is key, the Government should focus on ensuring that confidence does not lapse with the broader business community.”

The Bill is expected to have completed its first reading by February 1 but Tweed anticipates it will take many months to see how this unfolds for New Zealand’s SME businesses and economy.

Security flaw in Xiaomi electric scooters could have deadly consequences
An attacker could target a rider, and then cause the scooter to suddenly brake or accelerate.
Four ways the technology landscape will change in 2019
Until now, organisations have only spoken about innovative technologies somewhat theoretically. This has left people without a solid understanding of how they will ultimately manifest in our work and personal lives.
IDC: Top 10 trends for NZ’s digital transformation
The CDO title is declining, 40% of us will be working with bots, the Net Promoter Score will be key to success, and more.
Kiwi partner named in HubSpot’s global top five
Hype & Dexter is an Auckland-based agency that specialises in providing organisations with marketing automation solutions.
Moustache Republic expands Aussie presence with new exec
The Kiwi digital commerce partner has appointed a Sydney-based director to oversee the expansion of the company’s Australian footprint.
Epson’s new EcoTank range with two years printing per tank
With 11 new EcoTank printers that give an average user two years of printing and cost just $17.99/colour to refill, Epson is ready to change the game.
Te reo Māori goes global via language app called Drops
If you’re keen to learn a few words of Māori – or as much as 90% of the language, you may want to check out an Android and iOS app called Drops.
Reckon Group announces a steady profit in 2018
Reckon continued its investment in growth throughout the year with a development spend of $14.3 million.