National’s Employment Relations Policy

I suspect we will hear from a lot of unions today. Amazingly not a single union commented on Labour’s superannuation policy yesterday, despite their decades of opposition to compulsory superannuation and raising the age of eligibility.

But National has just released their employment relations policy, and I think the unions will rediscover their voices. The policy takes a number of good steps in the right direction, and is in total contrast to Labour’s desire to return to the 1970s.

First of all there is a partial victory on the issue of the minimum wage for teenagers, which has resulted in such massively high youth unemployment.

There will be a “Starting-Out Wage” set at 80% of the adult minimum wage. At present the current law has this also, but it only applies for the first 200 hours of employment, which can be as little as five weeks. National is extending this to:

  1. 16 and 17 year olds for their first six months with an employer
  2. 18 and 19 year olds if they have been on a benefit for more than six months prior, for their first six months of employment
  3. 16 to 19 year olds doing at least 40 credits of industry training a year (was 60)

This doesn’t go as far as I would go, which would be to simply not have the minimum wage law apply to those aged under 18 (rather than under 16), but it should give young job seekers a better opportunity to get their first job, and gain that all important experience.

National is also making it easier for employees to request flexible working arrangements:

Many workplaces already have flexible working arrangements, either formally or informally. But at the moment, the formal request mechanism applies only to those with caring responsibilities.

National will extend the right to request flexible working hours to all workers, and raise the profile of flexible working arrangements. We want to see more workers and employers benefiting from flexible working arrangements.

And also they wind back some compulsory lite unionism:

Remove the requirement that non-union members are employed under a collective agreement for their first 30-days.

The current law effectively forces you to join the union, and means you can only withdraw and go on an individual contract after 30 days. National allows an employee to decide for themselves from day one whether or not they wish to join a union.

Apply partial pay reductions for partial strikes or situations of low-level industrial action.

Currently, employees can engage in partial strike action, such as refusing to answer email or do any paper work, while continuing to receive full pay.

Partial pay for partial work.

I am really pleased to see some movement on the issue of pay rates for teenagers with no work experience who need a first job. Our youth unemployment rate is far too high.

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