Bridges flags changes to Employment Relations Amendment Bill

by |
Labour Minister Simon Bridges has revealed a number of changes to the Employment Relations Amendment Bill during its second reading in parliament.

After concerns were raised over the Bill changing the duty of good faith so that it no longer requires parties to conclude a collective agreement, Bridges proposed to parliament an amendment.

United Future Leader Peter Dunne had raised concerns that the amended Bill could “embolden employers or employees to go through the motions” of negotiation then walk away from collective bargaining and then call in the Employment Relations Authority to declare the end to bargaining. He wanted the inclusion of stronger provisions in the Bill to enable the ERA to be fully satisfied parties engaged in collective bargaining had done so in good faith.

As a result a new Section 50KA, has been put forward that the ERA cannot declare bargaining concluded if parties have not complied with the duty of good faith, however, it can issue orders, recommendations or directions to bargaining parties who have failed to observe good faith about what steps ought or must be taken to rectify the failure.

The Select Committee also recommended changes in light of the concerns regarding the Bill’s exemption of employers, and their associated persons, who have 19 or fewer employees from the requirement to take on those employees who are eligible to transfer to a new employer under Part 6A of the Act (Part 6A requires that eligible employees be allowed to transfer to a new employer following a restructure).

“The Committee carefully considered the provisions and weighed up the diverse views on the issue to find an appropriate balance. They have recommended, and I agree, that the Bill be amended to alter the definition of “associated person” to exclude a franchisor where the franchisee bids for and manages the contract independently of the franchisor,” Bridges told parliament.

“That means that small to medium sized franchisees that operate with a high degree of independence from the franchisor, and therefore share characteristics of SMEs in many respects, are able to access the exemption.”

The Committee has also recommended changes to the bill that ensure in each type of restructuring situation employers wanting to give a warranty as an exempt employer can obtain sufficient information about the identity and contact details of the person they need to give the warranty to.

Other changes:
  • Improving the clarity of the definition as to what constitutes a partial strike in relation to the amendment that allows employers the ability to respond to partial strikes with specified pay deductions;
  • In regards to changes to the requirement on nature and timing of determinations by the ERA and concerns the new rules would lead to the ERA making hasty decisions several changes have been put forward including allowing for reserved determinations, and amending and clarifying timeframes and content for different types of determinations.

HRD Forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Name (required)
Comment (required)
By submitting, I agree to the Terms & Conditions