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Holidays proposals another cost on business

Media release 1 February 2002

Holidays proposals another cost on business

Proposals to increase the payment for work on statutory holidays will impose an extra burden on 7-day a week businesses, says Business New Zealand. Executive Director Anne Knowles says the Government's proposals mean employers will have to pay time and a half for each statutory holiday worked, as well as providing for a paid day off in lieu.

"This will load considerable extra costs onto all enterprises operating 7 days a week such as the hospitality sector, retailers, residential care and farmers," Ms Knowles said.

"The aim of this review was to get legislation that takes account of 7-day a week enterprises and allows for flexibility, recognising that one size does not fit all. But what has eventuated is a restrictive system with less ability for employers and employees to vary arrangements by mutual agreement, and which increases costs, particularly for 7-day a week enterprises.

"We will need to look closely at the detail of the proposals, for example to ensure that if there can be the accumulation of up to15 days' sick leave and virtually unlimited bereavement leave, employers have the ability to verify that employees meet the eligibility criteria.

"The proposal to increase fines from a $500 maximum to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a company, along with another $1,000 a day for a continuing offence, further increases the risk of being an employer.

"Employers will be pleased that labour is not proposing a change from three to four weeks' annual leave, but the Alliance party's push for four weeks is of concern, as this may create expectations for further largesse at employers' expense.

"Employers are already faced with looming cost and compliance increases from changes to minimum wage, parental leave and health and safety law - this is yet another impost which adds nothing to productivity, economic growth or employment prospects.

"The Government's statement today implies that these proposals have been reached by agreement between Business New Zealand and the CTU. In fact there was no agreement on the substantive changes announced today which more closely mirror the unions' position than those of New Zealand businesses."


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