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Positive changes to Employment Bill

Changes to the Employment Relations Amendment Bill will make parts of the legislation more acceptable to business.

A supplementary order paper lodged by the Government would address some key concerns, BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope said.

Areas softened in the Bill are provisions on union access and multi-employer collective agreements (MECAs).

Kirk Hope said the changes resulted from NZ First’s influence in changing the Bill and business would be grateful for its input in striking a better balance between employer and worker rights.

A previous clause that would have allowed union reps free access to workplaces without permission has been changed to free access only where there are union members in a collective covering their work, or where bargaining for a collective is under way.

And a previous clause that would have prevented employers from opting out from MECAs has been changed to allow employers to object to a MECA as long as the objection is on reasonable grounds.

"The ban on larger businesses from using 90-day job trials remains, and also the requirement for employers to reach agreement on bargaining demands for collective agreements, a provision which in our view would breach international law," Kirk Hope said.

BusinessNZ family organisations EMA, Business Central, Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and the Otago Southland Employers’ Association undertook a high profile campaign against the Bill in its early stages.

Mr Hope said the campaign had the support of thousands of small and large businesses that were concerned at the disruption the legislation would cause, and they would be hoping for further changes during the committee stages of the Bill.

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