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Government reaches consensus on employment law changes

The Government has announced its new enduring Employment Relations Bill is expected to pass its second reading in Parliament today.

The legislation delivers a new employment relationship in the workplace by striking a balance between protecting workers’ rights and employers’ interests.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government listened to the public submissions in the select committee process and has taken on some of the key concerns raised.

“The Government has also had its own constructive internal discussions to produce an improved Bill. Each party has bought their different views and the subsequent consensus reached will result in employment law that is better for workers and employers,” she said.

“Every aspect of our Bill is better than the current employment legislation and delivers rights and protections for workers which were stripped from them by National. Overall there is much to celebrate in this legislation, which I am sure will lead to better and more consistent outcomes in New Zealand workplaces.”

The Bill contains multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) provisions which clarify employers have a responsibility to enter into bargaining but does not compel them to settle an agreement, and provides union representatives the right to access worksites where union members are covered by or bargaining for a collective agreement, but requires consent from employers in all other circumstances.

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters says this legislation gives small business a fair go.

“The coalition partner’s contribution related to small and regional businesses. We have looked out for small and medium sized business to ensure that the law reflects their reality. “We heard that changes needed to be made to ensure small businesses weren’t unfairly treated under the legislation. This is consistent with the Bill’s exemption for small business from the 90 day trial rules,” said Mr Peters.

“Addressing inequality is a priority for the Green Party and we welcome all the added protections for workers in this Bill,” said Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson.

“We know that employment relations have become out of balance in New Zealand, and this legislation shows the Government is listening and making the progressive changes that will benefit New Zealanders.”

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