The Employment Relations Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament last week.  It contains provisions rolling back the last government's changes to individual terms of employment and to collective bargaining and union rights.

Proposed changes to individual employment agreements include:

  • Restricting the use of 90-day trial periods to employers with fewer than 20 employees.
  • Reinstating the right to prescribed rest and meal breaks, with limited exceptions.
  • Specified employees of small businesses will have the right to transfer if the business is sold or transferred.
  • Reinstatement will again be the primary remedy in personal grievance cases, if it is practicable and reasonable.

Proposed changes to union information and terms for individual employees where there is an applicable collective agreement in place include:

  • New employees are to be employed on the same terms as the applicable collective agreement for the first 30 days.
  • Employers are to provide a copy of the applicable collective and the union contact details at the same time as the intended individual employment agreement.

Proposed changes to collective bargaining and unions include:

  • Removing the requirement for a union representative to obtain consent before entering a workplace
  • Requiring employer to allow union delegates reasonable time during working hours to perform union duties.
  • Parties to collective bargaining will have a good faith duty to conclude a collective agreement, and the Employment Relations Authority will no longer be able to determine that bargaining has concluded.
  • Unions will again be able to initiate bargaining 20 days before an employer.
  • Employers will no longer be able to opt-out of multi-employer collective bargaining once it has been initiated.
  • Collective agreements must include rates of pay, which must be agreed during collective bargaining.
  • Greater protections against discrimination for union members.
  • Removing employers' ability to deduct pay in response to partial strikes.

The Bill has a long way to go, as it has to pass its first reading, and then go before Select Committee, which will invite and consider public submissions. 

If you have any specific comments on particular aspects of the Bill, please contact Shima Grice.

A link to the Bill is here

Written by Shima Grice at 00:00




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