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Holidays 'gift' brings unease

Media release 24 October 2003

Holidays 'gift' brings unease

Business NZ says there is a sense of unease over the way extra holidays are being dangled just beyond the next election. Chief Executive Simon Carlaw says policy promises that straddle electoral cycles should be subject to special scrutiny.

"Of course everyone would like more holidays, but mandating four weeks' minimum leave comes at a cost that will have to be paid by every New Zealander - the bill for an extra week's leave in the public sector alone will be enormous. Economy wide, the impact on New Zealand's productivity and competitiveness will be clear.

"It's too easy to use old labels to make misleading comparisons on this issue. Employees are not just numbers for successful businesses but successful businesses have to be able to afford to pay the cost of existing jobs, to say nothing of growing new jobs.

"Australians generally get more than three weeks leave. They also earn on average nearly $200 per week more than Kiwis because Australia is a third richer than New Zealand and is growing faster. Bigger slices of pie can come from bigger pies.

"The Government is free to make the case for more paid leave. Employers able to do so will heed the call. But requiring this by law will make many businesses think harder about their capacity to grow and is not a credible path to the top half of the OECD for low middle income countries*."

*The OECD ranks New Zealand as a low middle income country along with Slovenia, Cyprus, Portugal and Greece.

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