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Intelligence Committee and Employment Law Reform

Intelligence Committee and Employment Law Reform

MPs today will set the rules the Intelligence and Security Committee work under and its membership.

The two motions to achieve this include setting the members as: Amy Adams and Chris Finlayson, nominated by the Leader of the Opposition; and Hon Winston Peters, Andrew Little, and James Shaw, nominated by the Prime Minister.

Following the debate on the two motions, MPs will debate the first reading of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill.

A summary of the changes proposed to the Employment Relations Act.

Collective bargaining and unions

The amendments in the Bill include proposals designed to strengthen collective bargaining and union rights in the workplace in order to secure improved terms and conditions for union members, while supporting workplace productivity.

The amendments to Part 4 of the Act
• remove the requirement for a union representative to gain consent from an employer before entering a workplace:
• require employers to allow union delegates reasonable time during working hours to perform their duties in respect of the employees of that employer.

The amendments to Part 5 of the Act

• reinstate the principle that the duty of good faith requires parties to conclude a collective agreement, and repeal the provisions that enable the Employment Relations Authority to determine bargaining has concluded:
• reinstate the ability of unions to initiate collective bargaining 20 days before an employer:
• repeal sections which allow employers to opt out of multi-employer collective bargaining once bargaining has been initiated:
• require collective agreements to contain rates of pay and that rates of pay must be agreed during collective bargaining.

Sections of the Act are also repealed to remove an employer’s ability to deduct pay as a response to partial strikes.

The amendments to Part 6 of the Act will improve employees’ ability to make an informed choice about whether to join a union. The amendments intend to achieve this by —

• requiring new employees are afforded the same terms and conditions as the applicable collective agreement relating to their work for the first 30 days of their employment:
• requiring employers to provide the applicable collective agreement and union contact details and the option to join the union at the same time as they provide an intended individual employment agreement to an employee:
• requiring employers provide information about the role and functions of the applicable union when the intended employment agreement is given to prospective employees:
• encouraging an active choice by a new employee on whether to join the union, and whether to object to the employee’s employer providing the employee’s name and notice of the employee’s choice to the relevant union.

The amendments to Part 9 of the Act are intended to protect union members from unfair treatment by an employer —

• extending the grounds for discrimination to include an employee’s union membership:
• extending the time frame for which an employee’s union activities may be considered to contribute to an employer’s discriminatory behaviour from 12 months to 18 months.
Restoring key minimum standards and protections for employees

The amendments reintroduce minimum standards and protections that are intended to make vulnerable workers more secure in their employment while still allowing flexibility for employers. These include—

• removing the exemption for employers with fewer than 20 employees from the current rules about business transfers, which will allow employees of these employers to elect to transfer to an incoming employer:
• extending the time frame for employees to elect to transfer to an incoming employer and placing information and notification requirements on employers in respect of their employees’ personal information:
• reinstating the right to prescribed rest and meal breaks, with limited exceptions:
• restoring reinstatement as the primary remedy in unjustified dismissal cases, where the employee requests it and where reinstatement is practicable and reasonable:
• limiting trial periods to employers with fewer than 20 employees.

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