Help! Yelps govt over ERB

Top level talks are underway with IT chiefs as the government plans to allay industry concerns by watering down parts of its controversial Employment Relations Bill.

Top level talks are underway with IT chiefs as the government plans to allay industry concerns by watering down parts of its controversial Employment Relations Bill.

Ministers are alarmed at reports that the bill will fuel an exodus of workers from New Zealand and plan to minimise the claimed damage the bill could cause to the local economy by "clarifying" and changing various clauses.

Officials also say the bill - whose select committee is due to report back to Parliament this month - may not be enforced from August 1, as previously planned.

Late last week, Employment Minister Margaret Wilson was due to meet ITANZ executive director Jim O'Neil. Her department has also contacted Ebanz (E-business Association of New Zeald) and says other groups can contact the minister.

Wilson's spokesperson says the minister will confirm that contractors can remain contractors if they wish, despite fears to the contrary.

The draft bill had said "class actions" from unions and other groups could change the status of groups of certain workers, but now only those directly taking part in the class action will be affected.

Firms now will also not be liable for backdated holiday and sick pay from employees who successfully change their status. The only "retro-spectivity" will be over unfair dismissal, he says.

Disclosure rules allowing unions access to company information may not be so strong, as the minister now realises this can compromise firms. Using third-party groups is being considered. Wilson is looking at other issues such as allowing fixed-term contracts for "genuine operational reasons", exempting fixed-term agreements currently in place and creating exemptions for event-based agreements and project-based agreements.

The spokesperson says if contractors go overseas, it will be up to employers to respond.

However, O'Neil still fears the bill could see contractors fleeing New Zealand to "build someone else's knowledge economy".

O'Neil says there is still much uncertainty and he has particular concerns over people keeping their jobs at the end of a fixed-term contracts.

Current proposals putting the onus on employers to show a project has finished have gone too far, he says, and instead there should be tests on industry practice, pay rates and tax status.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Employment Relations Bill

Show Comments

Market Place

[]