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Employing Just Got Tougher

14 September 2004

Employing Just Got Tougher

The Employment Relations Law Reform Bill will make it more difficult for employers to hire staff, and harder to build good working relationships, said Charlie Pedersen, Vice President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

"Employers already live in fear of being snagged by minor technical breaches of employment law and being exposed to damages -- this law change will worsen that fear," said Mr Pedersen.

His comments follow the transport and industrial relations committee reporting back to Parliament on the Bill.

Employers should be alarmed that the Bill proposes allowing a judge to second guess an employer's decision to terminate an employment agreement.

Currently, if an employer dismisses a staff member and he or she takes a personal grievance, the courts have said they will focus on the process followed to give a warning or terminating an agreement.

However, if the Bill becomes law, judges will also be required to always consider the reasons for termination.

Mr Pedersen said that it was already difficult to explain to employers why such a slow and tricky process is required when warning or dismissing staff, even in cases of blatant misconduct.

"Giving a judge the power six months down the track to presume to know if the employer had a good enough reason to terminate the agreement was yet another stress for small business people," Mr Pedersen said.

"As with much 'well intended' law, this Bill will not only penalise employers but ultimately employees -- precisely those people the Bill is allegedly intended to help," Mr Pedersen said.


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