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Getting the balance right: the Employment Relations Amendment Bill

April 10, 2018

Contacts

Partners John Rooney, Phillipa Muir, Samantha Turner, Shan Wilson
Senior Associates Rebecca Rendle

Employment (inc Employment Relations Amendment Bill) Government reform and public policy

A recent survey conducted by law firm Simpson Grierson found that most employers strongly believe the Employment Relations Act is working well in its current form and does not need a major overhaul.

Sent out last month, the survey was designed to gauge employer opinions around the changes proposed in the Employment Relations Amendment Bill 2018.

Partner Phillipa Muir and Senior Associate Rebecca Rendle, say the responses clearly demonstrate that employers are generally happy with the Act and are concerned about the implications of several of the proposed changes in the new Bill.

“Based on the responses, it’s clear that employers are receptive of efforts to improve workplace fairness and protection for employees,” says Muir.

“However in areas such as union access to workplaces and employee trial periods, the vast majority of respondents view the proposed changes as too far reaching and believe they would unreasonably impact their ability to manage business operations.”

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 87% of respondents agree or strongly agree that union representatives should have an employer’s consent before entering a workplace;
  • 80% of respondents disagree or strongly disagree that reinstatement should be restored as the primary remedy for unjustified dismissal;
  • 87% of respondents agree or strongly agree that employers should have the ability to offer an Individual Employment Agreement alongside a Collective Agreement; and
  •  76% of respondents thought that 90 day trial periods should continue to apply to all employers or to those with fewer than 50 employees.

The law firm says the Employment Relations Act is an important piece of legislation that underpins and safeguards working relationships for most New Zealanders. Therefore, any changes need to be carefully considered.

“The changes currently proposed in the Employment Relations Amendment Bill haven’t yet struck the right balance in protecting parties on both sides of this relationship and the changes go further than employers believe is necessary or appropriate,” says Rendle.

“We are hopeful that this balance will be identified and addressed during the Select Committee process.”