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Business leaders brace for impact of new employment law changes

TVNZ One News posted the following article. It seems clear that the workplace law changes proposed by the Labour government will provide grist for the political mill in the next while.

Business leaders are bracing for impact after the government has made workers' rights a priority in its 100 day plan.

Under the government's new plan, employers will no longer be able to walk away from union negotiations until an agreement is reached, the minimum wage will be increased to $16.50 per hour by April and the controversial 90 day trial will be overhauled.

Minister for Workplace Relations Iain Lees-Galloway is defending the changes.

"We do want to make some changes to 90 day trials because under their current settings, they remove all rights for workers during that trial period.

"There is a role for trials and probation periods for employers to give workers a go. What we want to restore is some fairness and some natural justice so that workers aren't completely devoid of any rights at all during those trial periods," Mr Lees-Galloway says.

A mediation service will allow workers to challenge a 90 day dismissal and may be awarded compensation of up to $5000 and reinstatement.

However, Business New Zealand’s Kirk Hope says the compensation could see fewer people be given a chance at a job.

"Those changes again create uncertainty for businesses. The 90 day trial period was working. Eighty per cent of employers that we surveyed had used it and had continued to employ those people.

"Changes by way of mediation fees will be, you know, we'll have to see how that plays out. We'd like to see lower fees rather than higher," he says.

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