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What workforce practices might look like under a Labour & Green Coalition

This article is not meant to influence your voting but merely to set out in a very brief format what policies might apply in an employment setting should a Labour-Green coalition come into power after the 2020 election.

First considerations

It is likely that most of the current employment and workforce relations policies will continue in their current form should a Labour-Green coalition govern NZ.

You are unlikely to see a major change in existing policies and some of the fundamentals that already exist, and are well proven in New Zealand, are unlikely to change.

For example, most of the fundamental principles set out in the Employment Relations Act that all employees will have a written individual employment agreement or will be part of a collective employment agreement, that these contain a number of givens including rates of pay, hours of work, the type of employment arrangement, etc will remain.  It is also likely that the mechanism to settle disputes including the personal grievance process, the mediation process, and then the legislative process associated with the Employment Relations Authority and the Court system is not likely to change in the immediate future. 

Why not?

It would require a substantial amount of work to develop a new process and is not a priority for change. They work quite well because they have been tested over a period of time.

However, on the horizon, there are likely to be a number of changes including.

One – The Holidays Act

This is likely to change if for no other reason as both parties have struggled to simplify this piece of legislation. It is one of the most complex pieces of legislation that employers have to face especially if they are employing somebody whose hours of work fluctuate during their employment.  In addition, remember that there will be possibly the addition of another public holiday for Matariki Day as well as the extension of the sick provisions from the current five days per year to possibly 10.

The major debate possibly is about the timing of those changes and whether the new government does those quickly or waits a period of time while the COVID-19 recession is addressed.

Two – Minimum Wages

Both parties are committed to increasing the current minimum wage and in some cases introducing the living wage.

Three – Equal Pay

Both are committed to making it easier for women to gain pay equity in their organisation or across their industry, by ensuring there are better records of pay equity across New Zealand, including by ethnicity and age as well as gender.

Four – Health and Safety in Employment Act

The fundamental rationale of the act is unlikely to change.  It may well be that this is strengthened to increase directors and owners personal liability. The reason for a change is this legislation has acted like a hammer to bring some employers to the table but has not fundamentally addressed the issue of reducing the number of workforce accidents and developing in the minds of both employees and employers a risk management culture.

Labour’s Plan

Labour is already rolling out their plan to support New Zealanders and their jobs. NZ Labour Party workforce policies extracted from https://www.labour.org.nz/workplacerelations

Labour’s 2020 campaign policies include:

  • We will implement a major support package to assist businesses in hiring at least 40,000 New Zealanders whose employment is impacted by COVID-19.
  • We will progressively extend Living Wage guarantees to contractors to the public sector – such as our cleaners, caterers, and security guards.
  • We will increase the minimum sick leave entitlements from five days to ten days a year.
  • We will increase the minimum wage to $20 an hour in 2021.
  • We will make it easier for women to gain pay equity in their organisation or across their industry, by ensuring there are better records of pay equity across New Zealand, including by ethnicity and age as well as gender.
  • We will make it easier for workers to receive fair wages and conditions, and avoid the ‘race to the bottom’ that occurs within competitive industries by implementing Fair Pay Agreements.
  • We will strengthen and simplify the Holidays Act, and allow sick leave to be taken when needed.
  • We will protect vulnerable workers by legislating protections for dependent contractors and by recognising security guards as vulnerable workers to ensure their terms and conditions are protected.
  • We will raise the age for workers to be allowed to perform hazardous work, ensure all workers have the right to elect health and safety representatives, and ensure Seafarer Welfare Centres provide better services.

Greens workforce policies

This has been extracted from https://www.greens.org.nz/workforce_policy

Some of their policies seek to:

  • Give contractors and temporary workers a fair go
  • Introduce legislative protection to labour-hire working people to ensure their workplace rights are maintained.
  • Improve workplace protections for casual, fixed-term, and piece-rate working people, including dependent contractors and migrant workers.
  • Give people a better work-life balance by:
    • Parents should be able to request flexible working arrangements and employers should be required to consider requests in good faith.
    • Moving to a 35-hour standard working week should be investigated.
    • 13 months of parental leave should be available, paid at 100% of the average male wage.
    • A new public holiday should be created between Queen’s Birthday and Labour Day.

Is there a balance for any extra employer’s cost?

Even if any extra days public holiday is given, some of this extra cost could be offset against simplifications to the Holidays Act if the employer employs a significant number of staff working flexible hours.

How long will it take to introduce?

If the change is to be implemented through a payroll system, this may take time for the payroll firms to tailor their system to handle the change.  In some cases, this development work can take 12 months.  However, simpler changes can be introduced quickly.

Conclusion

How you vote is over to you.  However, based on the latest polls, a Labour-Green government looks likely.

If you have an opinion, either send it to me or put up an article.

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