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Bill Undermines Govt’s Own Work-Place Objectives

Employment Relations Law Reform Bill Undermines Government’s Own Objectives To Improve Work-Place Environment

“In 21st Century New Zealand, a one-size-fits-all approach to industrial relations is unrealistic,” – Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Chamber of Commerce.

A fundamental flaw in the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill is that it aims to reform employer behaviour with a prescriptive and coercive process while at the same time ignoring other voluntary options that the Government is also encouraging employers to adopt – and which many increasingly are.

Drawing attention to the flaw, the Auckland Chamber of Commerce submission notes that work-life balance initiatives are a major plank of Government’s policy to improve the workplace environment.

The Chamber submission includes a media release by former Labour Minister Margaret Wilson in which she makes a strong case that effective work-based initiatives to ease work-life pressure while boosting productivity “cannot be prejudged – a one-size-fits-all approach is not realistic.”

The Chamber agrees, and contends that this observation raises serious doubts about the usefulness of the Government’s prescriptive employment relations law changes to encourage work-life balance initiatives. Notes Mr Barnett: “Increasingly, employers are realizing that employees live total lives in which there is a work-life balance to be attained.

“Just as they cannot tell people – who happen to be a work colleague, a team member, an employee; or a boss, an employer or a business owner – how to run their lives, so too the Government cannot, and, as Margaret Wilson states in her media release, does not want to, tell “people” how to run their lives

The Minister’s views can be viewed in detail at /submission.

Employment Relations Bill – anti-SME, anti-innovation, anti-growth

The Chamber submission strongly asserts that a prescriptive “one rule fits all” model as established by the Bill will not work for SME’s.

“It is very obvious from the response of our members and our independent research and legal advice that the Bill is anti-innovation, and creates an environment of resentment and distrust,” said Mr Barnett.

“The “good” employer is in fact someone whose “good faith” conduct allows for things to be kept flexible and innovative.”

Without the encouragement and freedom to innovate, and convert good ideas into profitable ventures New Zealand’s dream of rejoining the world’s top group of rich nations will go nowhere. That’s at the core of the argument for Government seriously taking on board the message to withdraw the Bill, concluded Mr Barnett.

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