The Holidays Bill introduced in Parliament today is more streamlined than the current legislation, but still requires further improvement, says Business NZ.
Executive Director Anne Knowles says the advisory panel was successful in overcoming many technical issues, but it was not its mandate to influence policy decisions and as a result the legislation would likely impose more costs and penalties on employers in some areas.
"Providing for time and a half plus a day off for every public holiday worked by every staff member including management, was a policy suggestion that would have hit employers' pockets hard: initial estimates were an additional 1% to annual wage costs.
"Business NZ argued in the advisory group that there needed to be an opt-out clause to take account of people on salaries and composite rates. Salaries don't usually include a daily or hourly rate, and already include a component for working on public holidays. This would make it difficult to determine time and a half. The Explanatory Note to the Bill expresses the intent that if an employee's remuneration already incorporates an amount for working on a public holiday this will meet the obligation. However, we consider it should be expressed more clearly in the Act itself so that all employers and employees understand clearly what is intended.
"Other aspects of the Bill, including pay-as-you-go and special leave provisions also need to be clarified, for example 3 days' leave for a bereavement may in some cases be unnecessary yet the entitlement to 3 days in every instance is automatic. Not enabling employers to require proof of entitlement to such leave is also likely to cause some difficulties.
"Seven-day industries will be hit when Christmas or New Year fall on a Saturday or Sunday as they will have to pay extra not only for those days but for the Monday and Tuesday as well."
Ms Knowles said although the new Bill is simpler and more coherent than existing legislation, it could be simplified further.
"It would be useful to gain further improvements through the select committee process, and we look forward to discussing our suggestions with the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee."