SUBMISSION on the Holidays Amendment Bill 195-1 (2010) To the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee
Date of Submission 17 September 2010
This submission is from the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ), Level One, 11 Chews Lane, PO Box 11 450, Wellington 6142.
HRINZ is a professional membership organisation for people who are interested or involved in the management and development of human resources. The Institute has more than 3800 members who work in private and public sector businesses throughout New Zealand. HRINZ helps members develop their professional skills and knowledge as human resources practitioners and key decision-makers in their organisations. We do this by providing members with education and information services, conferences, seminars, publications, networking opportunities and representation at Government and official levels. HRINZ is distinguished from other business groups in that our values focus on promoting good people management, and acting ethically and legally. It is important to us that our national and international voice advances these values.
We do not wish to appear before the committee to speak to our submission.
We can be contacted via: Beverley Main, CEO, HRINZ, Telephone 04 499 2966
HRINZ supports the intent of the Bill to provide improved flexibility for employers and employees to negotiate leave that works for mutual benefit.
We wish to make the following comments:
Paying out up to 1 week of an employee’s minimum annual holiday entitlement in any one entitlement year, at the employee’s request.
HRINZ members have had considerable discussion on these proposed changes. Member concerns include:
Cashing up leave can be considered a retrograde step if we agree (as society did with the changes to four weeks’ annual leave) that employees should have plenty of rest and recreation, and should be encouraged to take leave entitlements.
We laud that employers may decline employees’ requests and are not required to provide a reason (ref 28A (4)). Practicalities may be more complex.
Sometimes people find themselves under tremendous financial pressure, and this may be the catalyst for requests to cash up leave, even if they really need the holiday break. Safeguards to protect the employee, and ultimately the employer, would be helpful. As a comparison, adequate leave is a requirement for the protection of the health, safety and welfare of workers in European Union directives. In New Zealand, we believe it should be a requirement for employers to consider not only operational (business) issues when considering an employee request, but also the potential effect of granting the request on the health, safety and welfare of the employee. To avoid the perception that employers could consider their judgment to be superior to employees in these matters, it is advisable for an employer to take into account employee health, safety and welfare on the basis of the nature of the role, the hours typically worked, the last occasion on which a holiday was taken, when the next holiday is likely to be taken, and other matters as considered appropriate to the workplace and general working conditions. We would prefer more overt consideration of employee health, safety and welfare concerns, and recommend the publication of at least good practice guidelines to assist both employers and employees.
We laud the provisions providing for employers to have a policy preventing payout.
Transferring public holidays
We endorse the suggestions to improve provisions for transferring public holidays. We also have a query relating to both this and close down periods:
Is it appropriate to specify how employee requests to transfer religion-based public holidays would be enacted during a shut down period? For instance, if the organisation shuts down over the December-January, Christmas-New Year period, and an employee requests to transfer, say, the New Year holidays to their own cultural New Year celebration time, what is the ‘legal’ pay entitlement for the New Zealand New Year celebration days of 1-2 January?
Proof of sickness or injury
While there were initial member concerns about these proposed changes the wording of the Bill does cater to the issues.
As noted in the body of this submission, we recommend publication of good practice guidelines to assist employers’ consideration of requests for cashing up leave entitlements. HRINZ would be pleased to provide assistance with the development of these guidelines. We have access to over 3800 practising HR professionals in organisations across New Zealand.
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