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Complicated Employment Rules

Complicated Employment Rules With Grave Consequences - Knowles

NZ Employers' Federation chief executive Anne Knowles says employers face a range of new problems as a result of the Employment Relations Bill which returned to Parliament today.

"The Bill has created a set of complicated employment rules with significant penalties if employers get it wrong," Ms Knowles said.

"Many of these rules relate to routine matters and individually may seem minor, but collectively they will harm business growth. For example, the obligation to give the opportunity for advice to be sought when hiring employees, even temporary or casual employees, will slow down employers' ability to react quickly to operational requirements and market opportunities. Another example is the extra costs and liabilities that will be imposed on employers who wish to sell a business or contract out work by the Bill's requirement that no employee can be disadvantaged in these circumstances.

"Requirements like these are undoubtedly motivated by good intentions, but will actually impose a cost on business that will result in more problems for companies, and fewer jobs.

"Then there is the extra work that employers will be required to do on unions' behalf - as information provider, accountant, funder and record-keeper. Employers must collect union fees and pay for stopwork meetings and leave for union training courses. Employers must allow extremely wide access for union officials who will be allowed to recruit union members in the employer's workplace. Employers' competitive position will be compromised, as they will not be allowed full control of their own confidential commercial information.

"Not only are the rules complicated, but they are also in many instances unclear, and will only be clarified by expensive legal action.

"Other problems relate to the increased powers given to unions, including increased strike powers with less ability for employers to replace striking workers. The monopoly that will be given to unions to negotiate collective agreements will take away much flexibility from enterprises to reach a deal that helps both employer and employee. New powers to strike for multi-employer agreements will create the opportunity for whole sectors of the economy to be paralysed.

"The complicated nature of the Bill means many New Zealanders are yet to realise the gravity of its consequences.

"There is now only a small window of opportunity for Parliament to amend this legislation. Employers urge the lawmakers of this country to significantly amend this Bill to reflect, in reality, the genuine concerns employers have expressed. If this is not done then the confidence that business needs to invest in the economy and in jobs for New Zealanders will not eventuate."

Contact Anne Knowles 04 4994111 or 021 425868 Kathryn Asare 04 4994111 or 021 555744 Kathryn Asare Communications Manager NZ Employers' Federation ph 04 499 4111 or 021 555 744 fax 04 4994112

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