News Article

latest news in employment law


Published 01 Nov 2011

Employers will welcome change to employment law promised by the National Party if elected. You may recall they also promised to open up collective bargaining in 2008 (to non-union groups) but this has slipped off the radar and not been passed into law as promised. The promises, this round, include a strengthening of employer's entitlements in a unionised workplace in that they may:
  • opt out of multi-employer collective employment agreement negotiations and;
  • apply partial pay cuts in the event of partial strikes or other low level industrial actions
  • non union members need not be employed on a collective agreement during their first 30 days of employment as is the case currently and;
  • they promise to remove the need for the parties to conclude collective bargaining (regardless as it stands).
Outside the unionised workplaces (and including all businesses) National promises to review the basic allegation of 'Constructive Dismissal' (I had no alternative but to resign). The aim of the review is to minimise the use of this as a 'last resort' by employees raising a Personal Grievance. Such allegations are used frequently but are not often successful – but when they are, the awards can be high.

There are other policies of promise and they can be fleshed out in full by going to

The intention to widen the entitlement of employers to pay the 80% of minimum wage to more age groups will be of interest but of limited help to struggling employers. What would greatly help employers would be legislation that made employing anyone less risky for businesses. There has always been risk involved in starting and running a business but the risks have increased markedly with successive Governments placing more and more responsibilities onto employers. Changes to law that took some focus of 'due process' away and created a more fair and just system of discipline and dismissal would help create more jobs.

Incidentally, it appears the National Party's '90 Day Trial Period' offers no more protection for employers than they had prior to its introduction. After the Stokes Valley Pharmacy case the situation is that employees who are subject to a '90 Day Trial Period' are not to be treated any differently than 'someone not on a 90 day Trial Period'. Please seek advice before dismissing anyone.