90 days to take a chance on some talent [updated]
There’s outrage around the union- and compulsion-dominated traps that the new government is about to allow employers and employees to test each other out for ninety days before the full, costly, restrictive panoply of labour law descends to intrude upon the relationship.
it will bring about bad practice in small businesses, instead of businesses being very careful when employing people and checking their references. She says people should have dignity at work and be treated fairly.
Ms Kelly says unjustified dismissal and unjustified disadvantaged are being removed from the law. She says under the bill people can be sacked for attending their grandmother's funeral or being sick, which have nothing to do with incompetency.
Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell says
the practical effect of the law change will be to increase the vulnerability of new employees at precisely the point when they are most vulnerable. He says denying rights of protection against unfair dismissal is dangerous in the hand of bad or inexperienced employers
Neil Jones at The Standard says the decision to introduce the legislation under urgency
is frankly an astonishing abuse of our democracy. A piece of legislation that will remove basic work rights from hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders in any one year is being rammed through Parliament without any discussion or debate.
And summing it all up Sue Bradford calls it “a disgraceful attack on both workers' rights and on democracy.”
They appear to think that it is only the intrusion of government that keeps wages and conditions up, rather than the productive profit-seeking of entrepreneurs and businessmen, and that in the absence of intrusion – even for ninety days – the conditions of workers will go to the wall.
They seem to consider that employers hire employees only to dismiss them, instead of to put them to work.
They seem unaware that as the world’s economic crisis hits home here in New Zealand job-seekers are going to need every bit of help they can to find new employment, and this is a small step towards that.
They seem to have forgotten in their “anger” over urgency that a substantively similar bill was presented and much debated just two years ago -- and in the case of The Standard they seem to have forgotten all their arguments in favour of ramming through under urgency the Electoral Finance Act and the Emissions Trading Act, two of the biggest assaults on democracy, free speech and prosperity seen in recent years, and both of which saw the bills being written as the earlier clauses were being passed.
And they seem blithely unaware that there are many people who want desperately to become a worker, but who are locked about because present employment law discourages employers from taking a risk on them – that a ninety-day trial is just what many would-be workers need in order to prove themselves.
This is not an attack on workers. It’s a leg up for those who want to work, but who are presently locked out. The facts are these:
It could only be a bad or inexperienced employee advocate who was unaware that to invest ninety days in a new employee is a considerable investment – since the new employee who hits the ground running on day one is rare – a “sunk cost” that no reasonable employer would throw away on a whim in the manner Ms Kelly and Mr Powell and Ms Bradford think they will.
It could only be an incompetent employee advocate who was unaware of the risk every employer takes when they hire every new employee, and the risk is often highest with those who need employment the most -- the young, the old, the inexperienced, the under-qualified, those who’ve been out of work or their profession for a while – and who an entrepreneurial employer might consider for their position if they have to chance to “try before they buy.”
And it could only be a politician who could call this an attack on “workers’ rights” when what it is in fact is a step, a small step, towards helping the unemployed become workers.
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. That’s where wealth (and jobs) comes from. But while they live by risk, present employment law does not encourage them to take risks when they choose who to hire because, as too many Employment Court decisions have shown, letting an unsuitable employee go is a about as easy as getting David Cunliffe to express humility: which means the downside of hiring someone who turns out to be unsuitable is high.
The fact is that in in the present legal environment when an employer has to choose between John who’s well-qualified but dull and Hone who is less-qualified and less-experienced but perhaps a little sharper, the employer is more likely to offer nice-but-dull John their job, and to show Hone the door. Too risky, you see. Too expensive a process if your personnel department gets it wrong. Much easier to play it safe and select the employee who just ticks all the boxes, and let the “riskier” candidate go.
You see, present law favours nice-but-dull, while it lowers the boom on those candidates who need someone to take a risk on them. Those “riskier” 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 and manufacturers who miss out on good talent at good prices; would-be employees who keep finding the door shut in their face; and consumers, who don’t get to take enjoy the products of what this pool of untapped talent can do. In a time of rising unemployment, every barrier to productive employment that can be removed is worthwhile. Every job-hunter should welcome this move.
But there is one group who suffers disproportionately more than any other from the way restrictive employment law forces employers to ‘play it safe,’ and despite the great boon this bill would offer them they are unlikely to be listening to any of the arguments, or contacting Ms Kelly or Mr Powell or Ms Bradford to tell them to pull their heads in.
That group is the seemingly unemployable and unemployed Maori youth.
Whatever you believe about the present unemployment figures (a rate of just under 4%, with every chance of that increasing) there are nearly 300,000 people are either on a benefit or otherwise seemingly unemployable. Included in those figures are a whopping 27% of young Maori who are unemployed – young talent that is under-skilled, under-experienced, under-qualified (and in too many cases criminally-qualified). These are the very people who most need somebody to take a risk on them – who need employers to be free to take a chance on them.
But they aren't listening to this debate. They won’t be ringing Ms Kelly and Mr Powell and Ms Bradford to tell them to sit down and shit up.
There's someone who could ring them on their behalf though. Someone who could make a tangible difference. With some justice, the Maori Party could point out to them that present employment law locks out “their” people. They could call this 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. This one bill could do more to open doors 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.
Maybe the ones who should be fronting this debate with Kate Wilkinson are those two who could most easily silence the likes of Kelly, Powell and Bradford. But are Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples really aware of the issues at stake? We might find out sooner than we think.