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'Flexible workplace' law not needed

16 February 2005

'Flexible workplace' law not needed

A proposed law* is intended to create more flexible workplaces, but would have exactly the opposite outcome, Business NZ Chief Executive Phil O'Reilly said in a select committee hearing today.

"The 'flexible working hours' Bill would give employees a statutory right to request changed hours.

"The employer would have only limited rights to refuse - and those rights wouldn't include impact on customers or burden of cost.

"The Bill would apply to only certain types of employees - those with children under certain ages - and not to other employees who may also need flexibility to care for elderly parents, sick spouses or for other reasons. The Bill therefore would give one group of employees preference over others.

"The Bill ignores the fact that the vast majority of employers already try their best to accommodate employee wishes, but they do that by balancing these with the needs of other employees and the needs of customers. It's simply good business practice to address employees' needs, but we don't need a law for that.

"The better alternative is to provide information to employers and employees about the options available and the fact that flexibility is often good for business."

Mr O'Reilly told the select committee that Business NZ was willing to work closely with the Government if it chose to go down that track.

*"The Employment Relations (Flexible Working Hours) Amendment Bill, promoted by the Green Party, and currently under consideration by the Transport & Industrial Relations Select Committee


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