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Most personal grievances paid off in private

Friday, December 15th, 2006

Most personal grievances paid off in private: survey

The large majority of work place personal grievance claims made against employers are paid off before reaching the court or the Labour Department's mediation service, a survey by the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) has found.

The survey which attracted 396 responses indicated over 70 per cent of personal grievance deals are made outside official channels.

"About 30 per cent of employers reported a workplace problem in the last year that they classified as a personal grievance," said David Lowe, Employment Services Manager for EMA (Northern).

"25 per cent of them paid their employees off to avoid the costs of a court battle.

"The number of employers who pay off problem employees certainly caught us by surprise," Mr Lowe said.

"The survey covered several other topical issues including whether holidays will be extended next year to five weeks for those on four weeks, KiwiSaver, staff shortages, flexible work and work life balance, and levels of wage increase.

"Most employees currently on four weeks holiday should not expect an extra week's leave next year; just 18 per cent of employers are planning to offer them five weeks holiday when the statutory minimum increases next April.

"But nearly half the employers surveyed are at least considering making employer contributions to their employee's KiwiSaver accounts. 43 per cent won't contribute with nine per cent definite that they will contribute.

"57 per cent of employers are finding suitable staff either very difficult or difficult to find. The preferred ways to address the issue is by recruiting overseas, the use of temping agencies and contractors and with investing in skills training.

"Employers strongly support flexible work hours and work life balance - 70 per cent offer flexible work hours, with over 80 per cent believing their organizations offer good 'work life balance'.

"68 per cent indicate they are prepared to consider making their work hours even more flexible and/or to address work life balance issues in order to attract and retain staff.

"Most of those that did not respond in the affirmative to the question said they were unable or uncertain how to become more flexible rather than having no desire to do so. These included businesses with set operating hours such as shops, schools and those involved in process manufacturing.

"The average wage increase for those involved in collective bargaining is 3.8 per cent while those not involved in collective bargaining reported their average wage increase at 4.4 per cent."

ENDS

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