New employment laws a big step backwards for NZ, academic warns

Posted By TEU on Jul 29, 2010 |

Hau Taki Haere, Vol 13, No 28

An employment relations professor says proposed changes to employment relations legislation will support inefficient and disorganised employers. Professor Erling Rasmussen, editor of a new book ‘Employment Relationships: Workers, Unions and Employers in New Zealand’ launched at Te Wānanga Aronui o Tāmaki Makau Rau (AUT) last night, said Aotearoa is heading in the wrong direction by letting employee protection slip out the back door.

“Law changes will mean employers that don’t have suitable HR systems in place won’t need to change their practices and are in fact supported by legislation,” Professor Rasmussen said. “This is a big step backwards in protection of employees.”

Proposed changes include new kaimahi no longer being able to file a personal grievance claim following dismissal (by extending the 90-day trial period to all new employees), the possibility of requiring a medical certificate for one day of sick leave, and changing process requirements at the Employment Relations Authority.

Professor Rasmussen says Aotearoa is moving towards a US style of human resources practice with an at-will employment approach where employers can get rid of a new employee for any reason and he warns this will be damaging for the country.

“Asking employees to get medical certificates for taking a sick day, for example, is hugely inefficient,” adds Professor Rasmussen, “and employers already have the possibility of dealing with employees abusing sick leave entitlements.”

The proposed new legislation puts pressure on Aotearoa which is once again facing issues of brain drain and rangatahi dropping out of the workforce altogether, he says.

“We’re currently in the situation where once again people are moving to Australia and overseas,” says Professor Rasmussen. “Alongside this, around 17 percent of our young people are unemployed with some being shut out of the workforce permanently.”

Also in Hau Taki Haere this week:

  1. Joyce pleased there’s no cap on international tauira
  2. Goodwill gives way to industrial action at Manukau
  3. Government has no role funding private capital
  4. VCs find ally in campaign against interest-free loans
  5. Unitec partners with Tāmaki-Makau-Rau Rugby

Other pitopito kōrero

Staff at Te Whare Wānanga o Te Tau Ihu o te Waka-a-Maui (NMIT) were told this week which areas of the institute would be affected by a review that aims to cut the equivalent of 20 fulltime kaimahi. The move, which aims to save the polytechnic million, is part of the second stage of a review of the programmes and curriculum offered by NMIT – Marlborough Express

A Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa medical student is horrified about changes to the national student loan policy that could force her to fund her final year of study without any assistance from the Government. Fourth-year Otago medical tauira Greta File says the “sly” move by the minister of tertiary education Steven Joyce to push through a no-exemptions limited access to student loan scheme will force her overseas, despite ongoing doctor shortages in Aotearoa – Gisborne Herald

Is double-blind peer-review system is still the best way to review an academic article”? Instead of using blind peer-review, “Shakespeare Quarterly” allowed some contributors to post drafts of their articles online and accept comments from anyone – The Chronicle of Higher Education

David Grey at Te Whare Wānanga o Te Tau Ihu o te Waka-a-Maui (NMIT): “We’ve had to say in some cases we can’t do these programmes any more, and in other cases we need to do them more efficiently”. Yes, it’s meant that the small class sizes NMIT has traditionally been able to offer, with student to staff ratios of 10:1, are now more like 15:1 or 16:1. Yes, it’s meant reviewing the amount of time staff are teaching for and whether courses can be delivered differently.” – Nelson Mail

The University and College Union warned the British government that encouraging the growth of private universities would damage the UK’s international reputation and invite serious questions about standards. Responding to the news that private provider BPP will become the first new private sector university college for more than 30 years, the union said the move would be deeply unpopular with the academic community – UCU

‘Smackademics’ join the ranks of roller-derby women: a photo essay from the Chronicle of Higher Education

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