5/10/2023·2 mins to read
Pre-election survey 2023: employers identify top three employment priorities for incoming government and reveal impending restructures
In our fourth edition of a pre-election survey released today, 63% of employers selected Holidays Act simplification as their top priority for an incoming government to address - for the fourth election in a row.
Meanwhile, a significant number of employers (36%) say they are planning to restructure or implement redundancies within the next year.
Aside from the Holidays Act, the two other key areas that are keeping employers awake at night are:
- a need for greater guidance on excessive sick leave/medical incapacity (identified as a top priority for 33%); and
- Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs), which was selected as a priority for 32% of respondents.
Holidays Act rewrite urgently needed
Employment Partner, Rebecca Rendle says: “The results are clear - employers are crying out for a complete rewrite of the Holidays Act legislation.
“Tens of millions of dollars have been spent by businesses on Holidays Act compliance and remediation projects, and the opportunity cost for both employers and the economy is substantial.
“The incoming government simply cannot continue to ignore this. My prediction is that we will see a bill introduced within the next term of government but that it will not go far enough to achieve meaningful reform.
“That’s why I would encourage employers to actively engage in the select committee process when we get to that point and lobby for effective change, rather than leaving it to policy makers to tinker around the edges,” says Rebecca.
Restructures on the cards
While 47% of respondents say they have no plans to restructure, over a third (36%) say they do have plans to restructure or implement redundancies within a year. Meanwhile 16% preferred not to respond to this question.
Rebecca continues: “New Zealand redundancy laws require careful consideration of redeployment opportunities and so restructuring may not necessarily result in job losses.
“However, given the current economic climate and uncertainty ahead, many businesses may be looking to reduce costs and optimise their structures over the coming year,” she says.
Sick leave guidance needed
One third (33%) of survey respondents identified ‘incapacity’ as their top priority, referring to the need for more guidance from government for employers to help them manage excessive staff sick leave and medical incapacity.
One respondent noted: “Incapacity is at the top of my list because it feels like a minefield to deal with and is coming up more and more often in the workplace.”
A third (32%) of respondents reveal that their top priority for the incoming government to focus on is Fair Pay Agreements. Of those who told us FPAs are at the top of their wish list, 81% want the Fair Pay Agreements Act repealed and only 7% want to keep it in its current form.
One respondent says: “I support workers getting a fair wage and good conditions but think that FPAs alongside collective bargaining are going to create an untenable position for many employers.”
Other topics that employers rated top of mind for an incoming government to focus on include:
- Re-introducing 90-day trial periods for employers with 20 staff or more (29%);
- Greater guidance on how employers can incorporate tikanga into the employment relationship (23%);
- Guidance on how employers should manage AI in the workplace (20%).
Simpson Grierson’s survey canvassed 181 employers and HR professionals from across Aotearoa in September. Respondents were asked to select their top three employment priorities for the incoming government, and to state whether their organisation is looking to restructure or implement redundancies in the next 12 months. Click below to download the full report.