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Centsibility by Kat Ryan


Employment law changes

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The government is proposing changes to the employment law, including:

  • extending the 90-day trial period for new employees;
  • giving bosses more control over employee sick days;
  • restricting union access to workplaces; and
  • the opportunity to exchange one week's annual leave for cash.

Prime Minister John Key says the 90-day trial situation will work on "good faith" — that is, employers will be fair and upstanding citizens and not bend the rules or use the law to their own advantage. Sounds like "blue-sky thinking", which is exactly what this government said it did not want.

If an employee is dismissed during their trial period, there is the possibility they may be given no explanation. "Good faith" will cover this, apparently, not legislation. The New Zealand Herald reported that an employer would have no obligation to give the employee a written explanation if they are let go and the employee will have no rights to request one. This is only required once the trial period has finished.

"The 90-day trial is covered by good faith provisions. It is reasonable to accept that that includes giving a basic reason. However, there is no reason for a formal written reason," the New Zealand herald reported the prime minister said.

In an egalitarian society, government officials and councillors would get a 90-day trial period too. With the new "super city" Auckland mayoral elections coming up, we would be able to re-vote when the new mayor's trial period is up, to say whether they get to stay or not.

It is interesting that this trial period will probably most affect younger and less-skilled workers. This means the group of workers who are paid the least. How do we know that office worker earning $250,000 a year is any better than someone on minimum wage? Yet it is highly unlikely the office worker will be asked to endure a 90-day trial period.

The proposed law changes will also restrict union access to workplaces, making them require employer consent before stepping foot on the premises. Sounds exactly like the opposite goal of what unions are all about.

Employers will also be able to ask for a doctor's certificate after an employee has been off work sick for only one day. It is currently three days.

Obviously, not all workplaces will bother with this new rule, but the thought that you may have to cough up a doctor's certificate (entailing getting to the doctor when you are not feeling well), might mean more people work through illnesses. This is often where the illness comes from in the first place — other sick people going in to work because they feel they can not take a sick day.

User comments
for employers who do mistreat workers and who dismiss workers without just course within the trial period or who insist on workers getting dr certs unreasonably when workers take sick leave. If you have the flu or migraine there is no need to see a dr and travelling there can be very difficult. I get migraines and the trying to drive to my dr could be a problem. As the employer has to pay though for the dr to give a cert if you are too unwell to travel then get the boss to pay for a homevisit
National initiated this stupidity with the ECA which was subsequently repealed by labour with some equally stupid replacement laws attached to the ERA The ECA severely disadvantaged the employee in general The ERA severely disadvantaged the employer in general When will the stupidity stop and common sense prevail. For goodness sake get together and sought something out that is fair accross the board.
I believe only and only employers can benefited from this nonsense within 3 months employees won't accured any sick or annual leave and they can hire another one with same term. For a small companies, shops they surely will exploit this. I am against it. How many sick employees can 5 max. I voted national arrrrghhhh, sure not anymore
I can't say I'm really all that surprised. National has always had a tendency to step on workers' rights in this country, and they are merely being true to form. It boggles the mind how such draconian practices can be brought to bear in this so-called 'civilised' and 'democratic' society. Next he will make wages optional (to be traded for food and lodging) and no land-ownership for those with less than $1m collateral in the bank. It seems we are not too far off from reverting back to a feudal society with very strictly-enforced class distinctions. For all of you who voted for this medieval minded dimwit, I hope you are very happy. But since most of you who did probably had plenty of assets and money anyway, I'm sure you already are. At least Helen Clarke tried to shorten the wealth gap. Now it is a gaping chasm, and I'm finding it hard to see to the other side.
New rules regarding sick leave mean that I will be considered sick only when I am nearly unconscious and need to see a doctor. So if am coughing & sneezing I will go to work now rather than ringing my employer that I am sick. I work in a supermarket in the Produce department.
I work in the Elderly Care Industry. Maybe the 90 day work trial may work for this sort of Employment. Not very practical when it comes to the Sick Leave days though! As the above statement said "obviously not all workplaces will bother with this rule". So! What happens?
This is typical of this government, it is all about the business round table who has a big say on which government is elected in office. What rights does the poor employee have.............none! One more benefit of being self employed!
The 3 day doctors cert should be after 2 days. To expect to see a Dr after 1 day is not appropriate.I was initially working in NZ under the health system (MED senior role) and now work for intl.Gov in health. The greatest sickness is when sick people who only take a day off & come back to work ,spread their sickness around cause they are forced or feel obligated. Eventually everyone is exposed.NZ government ought to rethink such strategy. I would hate that NZ government would want to spread SARs or necrotising bacteria around.To reinstate doctors home visits which they have not been doing for well over 10 years.The tenor of proposed legislation is typical roundtable kneejerk reactn. Why not try co partnership flex hours & profit share As far 90 day probation period of employee assessment I agree however, a written reason must be given to the employee in question. We live in a democratic nation and as my forefathers have done, fought wars for freedom and abolish any form of slavery
a specific site, blog could be available to report unfair dismissals, name and shame the employers. This site also will enable employee's to organise government petitions and rallies,. It would be interesting to know if these disreputable employers are receiving the 3 month government subsidy
What happens to someone with a migraine who cant get to Dr due to migraine blindness! My Dr is almost always booked out for the week, often cant be seen for two weeks....I'll have to go to the hospital emergency room for a Dr's cert....really stupid! Most companys will have to apply this across the board if they want to use it or have problems with accusations of victimisation etc. Also what about a young lady who has killer pain on the first day of her period, shes not sick but is unable to work (sometimes)! This obviously hasnt been properly thought through...the 3 day cert works well for most of us (I'm middle management and require a cert for three plus days of all my staff). Company policy is applied to all to prevent accusation of bullying or targeting.

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