Employment reforms which passed into law yesterday are part of National’s plan to create a fairer, more flexible labour market that helps lift earnings and create more jobs.
They are necessary reforms for:
1. More flexible work arrangements
Our employment law reforms will extend the rights of employees to ask for flexible work arrangements, including from the start of their employment. Current legislation only provides this option for those with caregiving responsibilities.
The law needs to reflect the diversity of different people’s employment needs in the modern, fast-changing economy in which we live. We believe all employees and employers should be able to agree on flexible work practices that suit both parties.
2. More jobs
Lowering compliance costs for small-to-medium sized businesses helps them to focus on expanding their business and creating more jobs. Last year 83,000 more jobs were added to the New Zealand economy, our unemployment rate continues to be lower than most OECD countries, and we have raised the minimum wage every year we’ve been in office. We need to keep building that momentum to help even more Kiwis into work.
3. More choice for employees
A return to good faith bargaining during employment negotiations will help prevent unnecessary, fruitless, and protracted collective bargaining that can create uncertainty for employees and employers. Our changes will give new employees more choice by no longer being forced to take union terms and conditions for their first 30 days of employment.
4. A stronger economy and higher incomes
Requiring parties to provide notice of a strike or lock-out will mean both employees and employers aren’t able to unduly disrupt the running of a business.
Enabling employees and employers to agree on flexible arrangements that work for both parties will help to lift productivity, growth, and incomes.
5. Protecting fairness at work
We’re maintaining the key protections for employees at work. Contrary to the politically-motivated claims of opponents, relaxing the current over-prescriptive and often unworkable provisions around rest and meal breaks does not override any requirements for breaks to be provided. We’ll also place clearer expectations on the Employment Relations Authority to ensure rights are upheld and timely resolution of disputes.
The opposition and unions are doing their best to show that workers should fear the changes. On the contrary they should celebrate the flexibility.
It is possible that a few employers will use changes to exploit staff.
That is always a risk but it’s not a reason to handicap the majority of employers and their staff with inflexible rules which add costs and hamper productivity.