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Faster Decisions On Employment Disputes

Hon Simon Bridges

Minister of Labour

26 April 2013 Media Statement

Faster Decisions On Employment Disputes

Resolving employment disputes more quickly is one of the improvements proposed in the Employment Relations Amendment Bill introduced to Parliament today.

Labour Minister Simon Bridges says the Bill is aimed at improving fairness and flexibility in workplace relations.

“While most of the proposed changes have already been announced, an additional change aimed at speeding up Employment Relations Authority processes is also proposed,” says Mr Bridges.

“This should be welcomed by employers and workers alike. It will ensure parties who are in dispute get a resolution more quickly from the Authority.”

Under the change, the Authority will have to either provide an oral determination at the end of its hearing, followed by a written record within three months; or at the end of the hearing provide an oral indication to the parties, subject to additional information being received. Again a three-month deadline would apply from when the additional information is received.

“An immediate oral determination will provide the parties with an opportunity to consider their respective positions and whether they may wish to settle their dispute between themselves, without waiting for the Authority to issue the final written record. This makes good sense,” says Mr Bridges.

“All in all, the Employment Relations Amendment Bill proposes changes to employment relations law that are pragmatic and aimed at giving employers and employees more certainty, fairness and flexibility.

“These are all important ingredients in lifting productivity and helping businesses to grow and create jobs.” Mr Bridges says.

Other changes include:

• The extension of flexible working arrangements so any employee, not just caregivers, can ask for flexible work. Employees will also be able to ask for flexible work arrangements from the start of their employment.

• A return to the original position in the Employment Relations Act where the duty of good faith does not require the parties to conclude a collective agreement. Instead, the Employment Relations Authority may declare whether collective bargaining has concluded.

• Allowing employers to opt out of multi-employer bargaining.

• Allowing for partial pay reductions in cases of partial strike action.

• Removing the 30-day rule that forces non-union members to take union terms and conditions.

• Changes to Part 6A so employers have greater certainty over the transfer of employees in certain industries such as cleaning, catering, orderly and laundry – if there is a restructuring or change in the contracted service provider. Small to medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 20 employees will also be exempt.

• Greater clarity as to what confidential information employers are required to provide to affected workers in situations such as dismissal or redundancy.

• Parties will be required to provide notice of a strike or lock-out.

Further information: http://dol.govt.nz/er/services/law/legislationreviews/er-amendment-bill.asp

ENDS

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