Ditch FPAs, there's a smarter way

As the Government continues to push forward with FPAs despite them being singled out by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as a ‘worst case’ breach of international labour law, BusinessNZ is recommending three policy changes the Government should make instead.

Having passed its first reading, the Government’s FPA Bill will now go to select committee, with public submissions accepted until 19 May 2022.

Last week, BusinessNZ launched a nationwide campaign ‘Your Work, Your Way’, calling on Kiwis to reject FPAs, a policy they describe as a sledgehammer which punishes all sectors in an attempt to improve a few. CEO Kirk Hope says there is a smarter way, “FPAs are not fai and do not achieve what the Government says they will. That’s why we are advocating for a smarter way of working.

“Unlike the Government’s bill which strips away Kiwis’ rights to negotiate their working conditions with their employers, we are proposing to actively target the sectors needing reform,” says Hope.

“Our roadmap represents international best practice and is in fact what the Government’s own officials told them to do rather than proceeding with FPAs.

The three recommended areas of policy reform focus on protecting flexibility, targeting sectors needing reform and cracking down on poor employers:

  1. Protect flexible working - make FPAs voluntary. BusinessNZ is calling for FPAs to be voluntary, not compulsory. Individual employers and employees should have the opportunity to opt-out of them. Voluntary FPAs would at least be more consistent with New Zealand’s obligations under international law.
  2. Target problem industries – limited sector based minimum standards to protect vulnerable workers. As recommended by officials, BusinessNZ supports the development of a limited set of legally binding sector-based minimum standards for industries where a clear and significant labour market problem has been established. As a major employer in some of the sectors where issues have been identified, the Government can take a leadership role immediately by committing to best practice employment standards in these sectors.
  3. Crack down on poor employers – beef up enforcement to prosecute those who break the law. BusinessNZ recommends the number of workplace inspectors be increased to at least 250 (currently around 180) to protect vulnerable workers. Their powers to access workplaces and work records should also be brought to a level that allows inspectors to better detect inappropriate activity and enforce minimum labour standards.

“FPAs are fast becoming an embarrassment for the Government. It’s time they listen to their own officials, the ILO, employers, and employees and scrap this flawed policy and instead take action that will make a real difference where it is needed most.

“Our roadmap sets out a common sense way forward to improve workplace relations and crack down on bad employers without taking away people’s rights and breaking international labour laws. We urge the Government to adopt it and we will continue to advocate strongly for all the rights of Kiwi workers and employers throughout the Select Committee process,” says Mr Hope.

Find out more about BusinessNZ’s Smarter Way and sign the open letter rejecting FPAs at www.yourworkyourway.co.nz.

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