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Business groups call for more consultation on ERB

Business groups call for more consultation over Bill

The country's largest enterprise groups are calling on the Government to ensure further consultation over changes now proposed to the Employment Relations Bill.

The CEOs of the NZ Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Employers' Federation, Manufacturers' Federation, Federated Farmers, Retail Merchants' Association and Tourism Industry Association say they welcome the Government's move to instruct the Select Committee to amend significant parts of the Bill, but there must be an opportunity to examine the changes to ensure the legislation is straightforward to implement and does not add undue compliance costs to business.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Chairman of the Management Board of the NZ Chambers of Commerce and Industry Peter Townsend said the business community appreciated the Government's action in changing some aspects of the Bill, but he called on Government to let affected groups re-examine the proposed changes. He said consultation with key employer groups could be achieved quickly and would not impact on a 1 October implementation date.

"It is imperative that the legislation is workable so that it is sustainable in the long term. It is in no-one's interest to encourage expensive legal battles as a result of poorly developed legislation," Mr Townsend said.

"There needs to be give and take on both sides. The Government has listened to our concerns. We now want to work with them to see if we believe the changes they are proposing will be workable.

"It's important we all learn from recent history. One of the problems with the Employment Contracts Act, for example, was that clauses dealing with holidays were changed in the Select Committee without any outside consultation or input. These amendments then impacted on the Holidays Act, causing many difficulties for those operating businesses. We can see similar difficulties in future if parts of the Employment Relations Bill also have not been open to contestable advice."

Mr Townsend said the Government had gone back to the drawing board because of widespread concerns by employers across the whole economy, and the Government should now make sure the amended Bill effectively met those concerns to support business and economic growth.


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