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Employment Proposals Out Of Step With Commercial Practice

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

22 June 2008 - Tinkering with employment law relating to casuals and temps could blow out costs for the Rugby World Cup and other events, Business NZ warned today.

The Government is seeking to change the Employment Relations Act to give some casual workers the same pay and conditions as permanent staff.

"That would blow the labour hire industry out of the water," said Business NZ Chief Executive Phil O'Reilly.

"It would make temp agencies uneconomic and there would be huge ramifications for events like the Rugby World Cup that rely on large numbers of temporary workers.

"Large infrastructure projects like roading also rely heavily on the labour hire industry and we could see delays in building new infrastructure."

Mr O'Reilly said the proposal was no doubt motivated by good intentions, but was out of step with how the commercial world operated.

"Temporary and permanent staff are needed and used in different ways. They have the same employment rights, but these are delivered differently - for example temps get payment in lieu of holidays. It doesn't make sense to try and make them the same."

The Government's proposed code of practice also includes labour inspectors having the power to say whether a worker was a casual or permanent worker. Mr O'Reilly said this was misguided.

"This is a very complex area of employment law that has resulted in many appealed decisions to higher courts - for example the Bryson case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. It is not realistic to expect labour inspectors to make rulings in this area."

Despite these concerns about the proposed code of practice, Mr O'Reilly said business was totally supportive of moves to make all employees - permanent, causal or temporary - more aware of their rights.

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