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Nats oppose a better deal for working parents

31 March 2005

Nats oppose a better deal for working parents

Green MP Sue Kedgley says she is astonished that the National Party is opposing something as simple and family friendly as a Bill to encourage more flexible working hours.

National Industrial Relation Spokesperson Wayne Mapp this afternoon claimed that Ms Kedgley’s Employment Relations (Flexible Working Hours) Amendment Bill, selected from the ballot and scheduled to be voted on next week, is an ‘example of Green Party meddling’.

“Don’t the Nats understand that the tension of balancing paid work and family responsibilities is one of the major social issues in New Zealand?”

Ms Kedgley said her Bill does not dictate solutions, but simply imposes a statutory duty on employers to seriously consider any request for flexible working hours from employees with young or disabled children. It would require employers to make a formal business assessment of a request and they would then be able to refuse such a request where they had clear business reasons, based on designated criteria, for doing so.

“How can National claim to be family friendly, when they oppose a simple measure which would ease some of the tensions in family life for parents trying to juggle full-time work and raising children?

“National has clearly not read the research showing more flexible working places that better accommodate the needs of employees are more productive, suffer from less absenteeism and staff turnover and have reduced recruitment costs.

“My Bill is based on British legislation, which has worked well. Nine out of ten requests have been accepted. Far from ushering a ‘dark future’, as Wayne Mapp ominously claims will happen here, it has made life easier and more bearable for thousands of British parents.”

Ms Kedgley said it was silly to suggest the Bill would result in an environment where employers would not hire women, as it covers fathers equally as mothers. “Fathers would also be able to make requests for more flexible working arrangements,” Ms Kedgley said.

ENDS

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