Part 6A restricted

Kate Wilkinson has announced:

Cabinet has agreed to further improvements to the Employment Relations Act 2000, including changes to Part 6A that deals with the cleaning, catering, orderly and laundry industries, Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson said today.

The objective of Part 6A is to provide continuity of employment for employees in specific industries when a business is restructured or sold.

“A review of Part 6A found that there were significant operational issues around transferring employees’ entitlements and information to the new employer,” Ms Wilkinson says.

“Proposed amendments will fix these issues and provide more certainty and clarity for employers while at the same time protecting key benefits for affected employees.

In addition, the review found that while larger businesses had been able to adapt better to the requirements of Part 6A, small and medium sized businesses faced greater proportional costs.

“For example, a husband and wife cleaning team who tender and win a small contract may be currently required to take on any staff doing the work under the previous contract owner.

“That’s why Cabinet has also agreed to exempt small and medium businesses – those with fewer than 20 employees – from the provisions of Part 6A where the SME is the incoming employer.”

Employees in small and medium enterprises account for approximately a quarter of those in affected industries.

I’ve always regarded Part 6A as anti-competitive nonsense. Forcing the company that wins to hire the staff of the company that loses. Doesn’t provide much incentive for staff to make sure their company keeps the contract – their jobs remain.

Restricting it to large contractors is a step in the right direction, and welcome. However personally I’d scrap 6A entirely.

There’s some other welcome changes too:

 A return to the original position in the Employment Relations Act where the duty of good faith does not require the parties to conclude a collective agreement.
• Empowering the Employment Relations Authority to declare in certain circumstances that collective bargaining has ended.
• Allowing employers to opt out of multi-employer bargaining.
• Allowing for partial pay reductions in cases of partial strike action.
• Removing the 30-day rule that forces non-union members to take union terms and conditions.
• Changes around the disclosure of personal information following Employment Court judgments involving Massey University.

Almost all of these were in the 2011 manifesto, so National is simply keeping its word. They are all pretty minor – but important none the less.

One other change:

The right to request flexible working arrangements will be extended to all workers, right from their first day on the job – currently only caregivers are eligible and only after six months of employment.

I think a lot of the future will be people working different and more flexible working hours, rather than the standard nine to five, five days a week. In some jobs too, a lot can now be done from home.

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