Fair pay legislation repealed by Christmas

Christopher Luxon has admitted he was holidaying in Hawaii last week despite his social media...
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon. Photo: RNZ
Fair Pay Agreement legislation will be repealed by Christmas, while the use of 90-day trials will be extended beyond small businesses, the government has confirmed.

Workplace Relations Minister Brooke van Velden confirmed via a statement that Labour’s Fair Pay Agreements legislation, which made it easier for workers to band together to negotiate wages and working conditions, would be gone before the House concluded for the year.

“Fair pay agreements undermine the flexible labour market which has been a pillar for New Zealand’s economic success for the past three decades,” van Velden said.

The use of 90-day trial periods, which allowed employers to dismiss workers without cause during the first 90 days of employment, would also be extended. Labour, while in coalition with NZ First, limited the trials to businesses with 19 or fewer employees.

“Whether a business has 2 or 200 employees, bringing on any new employee costs time, it costs money and it is in the best interests of any business to find the right fit,” van Velden said.

“The extension of 90-day trials also provides greater opportunities for employees. They allow employers to employ someone who might not tick all the boxes in terms of skills and experience but who has the right attitude, without the risk of a costly dismissal process.”

The change would be made through a Member’s Bill from new Act MP Todd Stephenson and passed under urgency before Christmas.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, speaking at his press conference, said success would come from working hard had been a “broken promise” in New Zealand and he looked to fix that.

He said he wanted to make it easier for people to get off the benefit and find their first job.

No agreements had been finalised yet, enabling the repeal process to occur more smoothly.

It comes as the 54th Parliament sits for a second week, with the coalition government expected to start actioning some of its 100-day plan, including repealing legislation.

First on the list would be reversing Labour’s 2018 move to make the Reserve Bank focus on reducing unemployment, leaving the country’s central bank to its sole mandate of controlling inflation.

The House would be in urgency as the government pursued legislative change with respect to the Reserve Bank’s dual mandate.

Second would be Labour’s Fair Pay Agreements legislation, which made it easier for workers to band together to negotiate wages and working conditions.

More new MPs would also be making their maiden statements to the House this week, including all newcomers from Te Pāti Māori and New Zealand First.

Four National MPs made their first speeches last week: Rangitata’s James Meager, Napier’s Katie Nimon, Banks Peninsula’s Vanessa Weenink and Hamilton East’s Ryan Hamilton.

Luxon said he would be in Australia tomorrow for his daughter’s graduation. He would return on Wednesday.