The Employment Relations Amendment Bill fails to support good-faith relationships between employer and employee, says chief executive John Milford, representing members from the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, Business Central and ExportNZ Central.
Speaking to the parliamentary select committee considering the bill on Wednesday, Mr Milford said his greatest concern was that it undermines the way businesses engage with their staff.
“We want to support, reinforce and enhance good-faith relationships in the workplace, rather than treat the employer and employee relationship as one that is oppositional or adversarial.”
It’s not how Kiwis do business, he said.
“We want to support constructive and workable relationships between employers and employees, rather than what this bill does – disrupts business continuity, undermines confidence to employ, increases costs, contradicts international labour law standards, prevents reasonable dialogue, and perversely discriminates non-unionised staff,” says Mr Milford.
“For example, the 90-day trial periods are good for both employees and employers. It would be a backward step to ban 90-day trials in bigger companies.
He says the bill would prevent companies with more than 20 employees from using trial periods and, as a result, many unemployed people would miss out on a chance to prove themselves in the workplace.
“Trial periods have helped thousands of people into jobs and helped businesses fill critical vacancies.”
Mr Milford says allegations of employees being fired without justification at the end of a job trial gave an incorrect perception about the value of trial periods.
“In the great majority of cases, trial periods have been beneficial for both employee and employer.
“It would be a shame to lose those benefits as a result of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill, he says.
“We oppose some of the more impractical proposals and suggest changes to ensure the law is more workable. We recognise that the bill reflects the views of the Government and will proceed in some form, so we’ve made recommendations to the select committee to constructively support the changes that accommodate such a change of direction while at the same time limiting negative consequences for the ability of business to prosper and grow for the benefit of all New Zealanders.
“One thing is clear – this bill should not proceed in its present form.”