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Chamber supports changes to Employment Relations Bill

The Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce supports the recently announced changes to the Employment Relations Amendment Bill, but chief executive Leeann Watson says there are still some areas of concern that need to be addressed.

"It’s good to see that the coalition government has listened to business, with some of the proposed changes left on the cutting floor and parts of the legislation now more acceptable to business," says Leeann Watson.

"In particular, we are pleased that provisions on union access and multi-employer collective agreements have been softened to gain more of a balance between employer and worker rights.

"This shows a willingness by the government to listen to the concerns of business and alter course, and we would like to acknowledge the role of NZ First in securing some beneficial changes. However, we believe that the Bill still has a way to go to more closely align with the interests of employers and employees in the modern workforce and modern economy."

Leeann Watson says the ramifications on the ability of businesses in New Zealand to grow financially and employ more people could have borne greater consideration.

"We are disappointed to see that the ban on larger businesses from using 90-day job trials remains, which we believe will diminish employment opportunities for more marginalised members of the labour force, the very reason it was first established.

"We are also disappointed that the requirement for employers to conclude a collective agreement remains. While Multi-Employer Collective Agreements can work in some industries, they can also provide an instrument for larger businesses to force smaller businesses out of the market in situations where the larger player can absorb costs more easily.

"The issue of meal breaks also remains largely unaddressed.

"New Zealand compares very well with the rest of the world, with high growth and low unemployment. And while we endorse the Government’s goal of developing a modern, nimble, productive and high-growth economy, we do believe more could be done to ensure this legislation reflects that goal."

Leeann Watson says the announcement does provide clarity for employers at a crucial time of the year.

"We are thankful for the timely clarity around these changes as businesses start investing time and resources into planning for the new year and - for many - their new year recruitment drive.

"We will continue to advocate for changes that will help to ensure our employment relations are fit-for-purpose and future-proofed, and support businesses as they manage the impact of these changes."


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