Employee disputes top list of employer concerns

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Businesses’ top concerns are resolving problems with employees, a lack of work-ready skills and immigration issues, according to the Employers and Manufacturers Association Annual Employment Round-Up Survey.

The survey of 518 New Zealand employers asked respondents ‘what would be the three most helpful employment related changes a government could do to assist your business?’. Resolving problems with employees was the clear leading issue – employers perceiving dealing with problems relating to employees as ‘difficult and risky’.

"[Employers want] to be able to have an honest conversation with an employee about a workplace problem without the threat of a personal grievance and a drawn out and convoluted process hanging over them,” David Lowe, EMA's Employment Services Manager stated.

Employers raised issues with the education system failing to deliver young people with work-ready skills with particular concern about the level of reading, writing and math skills.

“Time keeping and understanding the need to be reliable were also noted as concerns that students should have a better awareness of,” the report stated.

"The third biggest issue was the way immigration is managed,” Lowe continued. “For example, businesses are concerned that once they have identified and recruited new skilled migrants they can find their new staff have their visa renewals declined after only a short time in the workplace.”

Other matters raised by employers in the survey include the Holiday Act, with particular mention of the issue of those on unpaid leave continuing to be entitled to paid holidays and paid sick leave, the anti-business approach of some unions, drugs in the workplace and tax compliance.

Employers, however, backed the proposed law changes on health and safety.

"Seventy-nine per cent of the survey supported a change to health and safety legislation," Lowe said.

"Employers are taking a keen interest in the changes proposed, with 75 per cent saying they are very familiar or somewhat familiar with them. This is excellent given the early stages of the reform process.”

Employers also reaffirmed their support of the trial period with 69% of respondents stated they have used them.

While only eight per cent said they had created a role because the trail period was available, 35% said they appointed someone when they would have otherwise left the position vacant.

Businesses however were reluctant to use the Starting Out Wage with only seven per cent stating they had used it since it was introduced in 2013.

In line with other data coming out, the EMA survey found business optimism was up with 63% expecting business conditions to improve.

"Employers confirmed they expect to take on more staff this year. Sixty per cent reported taking on more people in 2013 with 66 per cent expecting their businesses to grow further this year,” Lowe said.

"But there is work to do to ensure the right skills for the future are available. Over half of respondents (55%) believe there is already a skills shortage, or soon will be, though just 57% of this group have a plan to deal with it.”

Labour Minister, Simon Bridges, told HRM Online he was pleased with the results but not surprised.

"Good health and safety makes good business sense. It’s an investment in improved productivity, staff engagement and in an organisation’s reputation in the community.  I think the overwhelming support shows businesses recognise that," he said.

He added the government is focused on growing a stronger economy and creating more jobs for New Zealand families, but conceded "there’s still a lot of work to do and we’ll will be working pretty hard on getting the policy settings and incentives right to ensure we have sustained growth". 

Do you agree with the top business concerns? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.
  • me on 18/12/2014 4:59:51 p.m.

    cool. ain't done this before

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