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New Act Will Create Employment Minefield

Federated Farmers today lashed out at the extra compliance costs associated with the Employment Relations Bill, quoting the costs associated with good faith bargaining, paid union meetings, education leave and unfair bargaining as examples.

The federation estimates that union meetings alone will cost the meat industry at least $1m in wages per year. Paid education leave will add even more costs.

Vice President Tom Lambie said that while the altruistic notion of good faith bargaining under the Employment Relations Act might appear fine in theory, in reality the legislated requirement will contribute nothing except extra compliance costs that will then be passed on to farmers or consumers.

"The considerable costs associated with third parties scrutinising confidential information, and drawn-out negotiations because of the fear of breaching good faith requirements, will inevitably end up being paid by both producers and consumers," he said.

"At the other end of the scale, farmers hiring staff on individual agreements will be faced with the costs associated with extra interviews, more paperwork and records. There is also the added risk of being penalised for unintentional breaches of the new Act's pedantic and Unfair Bargaining rules."

Employers also face a greater risk of personal grievance claims through the relaxation of the ninety-day rule, which has limited the time in which a claim could be lodged.

"What has been up to now a clear and reasonably cost-free industrial relations environment is about to be turned into a minefield of extra costs and higher risks," Mr Lambie concluded.

ENDS

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