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Holidays Act harming productivity

Holidays Act harming productivity

To avert an early review of the Holidays Act which came into force on April 1st, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) is recommending Government take a realistic approach to its enforcement.

"Many businesses especially smaller enterprises don't have the capability to comply with all the Holidays Act's requirements straight away," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"It's not that they want to flout the law but many businesses are still in the dark over what they need to do because the Labour Department directives for its implementation were issued only three weeks ago.

"They are also still in a state of disbelief that the Holidays Act has overridden the law of contract applying in particular to salaried staff on employment agreements.

"Besides, though employers were promised by the Minister of Labour that the Act's objectives were to simplify this area of law, the Act turned out to be twice as long and complicated as the law it replaced.

"Smaller enterprises in particular don't necessarily have the capability to stay on top of all the extra red tape.

"Since it's sloppy introduction is bound to result in accidental non-compliance we suggest the government take a step by step approach to its enforcement.

"This approach would not compromise the integrity of the law since many aspects of it are already the butt of jokes in staff cafeterias throughout the country.

"To overcome the view that the 'law is an ass,' Government needs to explain how businesses should interpret its sillier parts.

"For instance, employers are trying to twist their minds around how to pay their salaried staff time and a half for working on public holidays when their employment agreements make no such allowance.

"Coming to terms with the fact that the government has overridden freely negotiated employment agreements is taking time.

"Companies also need guidance on how they can improve productivity to meet Government's growth objectives while being penalised for having to pay time and a half on top of productivity incentives and overtime.

"Businesses that have been generous with staff working on public holidays are finding they are now obliged by law to increase their generosity by half as much again or close down. This is no way to boost productivity, Dr Cullen.

"The effect of the Holidays Act is to increase leave entitlements by harming productivity. What it should aim to do is increase productivity from which extra leave entitlements can be negotiated between managers and their staff."

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