I finished my beauty sleep early this morning to have breakfast with Sue Bradford, Ruth Dyson, Wayne Mapp, Rodney Hide and about a hundred or so others. The event was a debate on Wayne Mapp's 90-day Probationary Employment Bill, for which Ruth Dyson argued we should listen to the facts.
Unfortunately, as an employment lawyer in the audience quickly showed, not all the facts are on Ruth's side.
The fact is that every business and every entrepreneur survives by taking a risk; by seeing a new vision or a new idea, assessing it, and then backing their judgement. The fact is that present employment law does not favour taking risks in whom employers choose to hire, because as too many Employment Court decisions have shown, letting an unsuitable employee go is a about as easy as getting Helen Clark to admit she shouldn't have spent taxpayers' money on her Pledge Card -- and can be almost as expensive a process.
The fact is that in in the present legal environment every employer who has to choose between someone well-qualified but dull and someone else less-qualified and less-experienced but perhaps a little sharper is more likely to see the nice-but-dull candidate signing the Employment Contract, and the more 'risky' candidate being shown the door. Present law favours nice-but-dull, and lowers the boom on candidates who need a risk taken on them. Those more risky candidates are finding it hard to get a toe on the employment ladder, and the fact is that present employment law is helping to making that happen.
We all suffer by that -- employers, manufacturers, employees and consumers -- but there is one group who suffer most, and despite the great boon this bill would offer them, they are not going to be listening to 'nice but dull' Wayne promoting it.
Who stands to benefit most? Let's have a look. Government figures show an unemployment rate of only 3.6%. At the same time, there are nearly 300,000 people are either on a benefit or otherwise unemployable. Whatever your view on the facts of economic growth under Labour or the truth of those particular figures, there is one figure that no one is challenging: 27% of young Maori are unemployed -- they are under-skilled, under-experienced, under-qualified (and in too many cases criminally-qualified) -- they are the very group of people who most need employers to be free to take a chance on them, and the very group that present employment law is helping keep unemployed. But they aren't listening to Wayne.
There's someone who might listen to Wayne though who could make a tangible difference. The Maori Party could with some justice call present employment law racist -- and in this case they might actually be right. It's targeted against the very group the Maori Party claim to represent. It makes life worse for them. Wayne Mapp's Bill would do more for under-skilled and under-qualified young Maori than any hundred government programmes aimed at closing their gaps -- it would give them the chance at real employment, and the chance for many of them to turn their lives around.
For this Bill to pass it will need to the Maori Party's vote. Let's hope they consider who stands to benefit most from it.
LINK: Probationary emplyment bill far from redundant - Susan-Jane Davies, EMA
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