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Business Could Do With A Breather

The call for a halt to new business-focused legislation for the next two years is an idea that has merit for a business community desperately in need of a breather, says the EMA.

"Now would be a good time for business to able to take a break instead of contemplating a raft of new business legislation that will only further add to the costs of doing business," says EMA Chief Executive Brett O’Riley.

"Given the year we’ve had and how close many businesses are to going over the cliff-face, a break from further costs would be a great signal to send to the business community."

On Thursday, the minimum wage rises to $20 per hour, the third in a series of increases that have seen the minimum wage rise more the 25 per cent in the past three years.

The Government has also signaled that it is looking at another three-year cycle of minimum wage increases. Other business-focused legislation on the agenda includes:

- An additional five days’ sick leave in 2021

- The 2022 Matariki public holiday at an estimated cost of $400 million to businesses

- Fair Pay Agreements that will create new minimum wage scales across several sectors by the end of 2021

- Easier access to Pay Equity negotiations - creating new minimum wage thresholds across several sectors

- Immigration wage rate changes for skills that create artificially higher minimum wages in critical sectors

- A new Holidays Act by 2023

- Wider obligations from Government for its contractors to pay the Living Wage.

"These policies come on the back of the addition of 10 days domestic violence leave last year and last month’s additional four weeks leave for the paid parental leave scheme - all costs for small business owners," said Mr O’Riley.

"We’re also fielding a number of calls from members facing 30-40 per cent electricity price increases as they seek to renew their fixed price contracts as gas supply and low lake levels see prices hiking. Members are also facing supply chain cost increases as they try to manage supply chain issues that show little sign of ending before the middle of this year."

Mr O’Riley says major policy changes focused on the Resource Management Act (RMA) and the recent Climate Commission recommendations were adding to the general air of uncertainty.

"Unfortunately, the Climate Commission has not been very transparent in how it calculates the costs for business in many of its recommendations and some of its assumptions around electricity pricing and the electrification of the vehicle fleet border on heroic."

"We’ve been at the forefront of driving RMA reform and we’re now in that phase of designing the new legislation to replace the RMA and you are always wary of what new legislation may add to costs," he says.

"Slowing or halting this raft of legislation would be a very welcome break for business."

© Scoop Media

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