The Government has proposed a broad sweep of changes to labour laws, including the option of workers to cash in one week’s annual leave for extra money and allowing bosses to interrogate employees they suspect they are pulling a sickie.

The government’s plan includes changing the processes required for disputes under the Employment Relations Act to put less of a burden on employers to stick to the exact letter of the required steps.

Employers will no longer necessarily lose cases over  their disregard of the law as long as the process overall was ‘fair and reasonable and gave the worker a fair chance’. The Employment Relations Authority will also be able to kick out ‘vexatious and frivolous’ claims early on and will be moved to a more judicial process, allowing cross examination of witnesses.

Employers will also be able to require workers to provide proof they are sick at any time, rather than having to wait for three consecutive days. The current law allows bosses to request proof only if someone if off sick for three consecutive days.

Workers will also be able to ‘transfer’ an official public holiday to another day – however they do not get extra pay if they work the actual public holiday but can choose to take another day instead.

Penalties for employers who breach the Holidays Act will increase to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for companies.

The major change that will effect workplace organising and workers rights is that union access to the workplace is now on the consent of the Employer only.

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