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Swain insults employers re sickies

Media statement, 15 June, 2004

Swain insults employers re sickies

"The call by Labour Minister, Paul Swain, for EMA and Business NZ to name the companies who had experienced significant increases in absenteeism on public holidays at the high "relevant day" pay rates is insulting, discriminatory and shows he holds employers in low regard", according to Alasdair Thompson, Chief Executive of New Zealand's largest association of employers.

"Swain's comment suggesting employers may be running some sort of unjustified campaign and are not acting in good faith does not auger well for employers who have conveyed their very genuine concerns to him.

"Employers had become used to this sort of bias from the former Minister and hoped for a better understanding from Mr Swain because:

* He has already acknowledged to us that he'd had many reports of a range of problems with the Holidays Act and, moreover, he was determined that similar glitches didn't remain in the new Employment Relations Bill.

* His statement implies the likes of EMA and Business NZ are telling "porkies" (lying to him), which is far from the truth.

* He knows the Act is at the very least ambiguous as to the meaning of a relevant day's pay. Therefore, it should be fixed before it becomes an issue tested in court, and finally

* Mr Swain knows full well that employers cannot prove that their staff are taking sickies (sick days off when they're not sick) and that's especially the case now that employers cannot ask for doctor's certificates until an employee is away for three or more consecutive calendar days.

"It's the Minister, not organisations representing employers, who needs to stop unhelpful posturing on this issue", said Mr Thompson.


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