New Zealand Employment Relations Bill set to pass second reading in parliament

New Zealand government

The New Zealand government’s new Employment Relations Bill is expected to pass its second reading in parliament today.

The legislation is expected to create a new relationship and balance between workers’ rights and employers’ interests. The bill contains multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) provisions that clarify that employers have a responsibility to enter into bargaining, but does not compel them to settle an agreement. It also provides union representatives the right to access work sites where union members are covered by or bargaining for a collective agreement, but requires consent from employers in all other circumstances.

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said the government had listened to the public submissions in the select committee process and has taken on some of the key concerns raised.

She added: “The government has also had its own constructive internal discussions to produce an improved bill. Each party has bought their different views and the subsequent consensus reached will result in employment law that is better for workers and employers.

“Every aspect of our bill is better than the current employment legislation and delivers rights and protections for workers. Overall, there is much to celebrate in this legislation, which I am sure will lead to better and more consistent outcomes in New Zealand workplaces.”

Marama Davidson, Green party co-leader, said: “Addressing inequality is a priority for the Green party and we welcome all the added protections for workers in this bill. We know that employment relations have become out of balance in New Zealand, and this legislation shows the government is listening and making the progressive changes that will benefit New Zealanders.”