29 Jul 2020

Employers want Holidays Act reform - survey

5:33 pm on 29 July 2020

There is overwhelming support among employers for a complete overhaul of the Holidays Act, according to a pre-election survey.

Euro Pay slip and calculator, close up for payroll or salary background

Photo: 123RF

The lawfirm Simpson Grierson conducted a survey of the changes businesses wanted made to employment law every election cycle.

For the third time in a row, changes to the Holidays Act 2003 is a top priority among 82 percent of the 117 businesses surveyed.

Simpson Grierson partner Rebecca Rendle said employers wanted a simpler way for how holiday pay is calculated, as it is costly to follow in its current form.

"It's been in force for 17 years now and all of that time it has required resource to be dedicated to complying with the act.

"Simpler legislation would enable that resource to be dedicated to innovation and adding value to employers' businesses."

Rendle said the law needed to be rewritten rather than just more tinkering around the edges.

"There is currently four different ways to calculate leave, so two different methods for annual leave and two different methods for all other types of leave.

"Ideally we would have one calculation but if that can't be achieved then at least fewer than four."

Rendle said the legislation should allow employers to accrue and pay leave in hours, which is simpler then the current methodology which uses days and weeks.

A government taskforce provided a report with recommendations to improve the Holidays Act to the workplace relations minister last year.

The new regime is expected to be implemented in 12-18 months time.

The survey also found that about a third of respondents wanted greater guidance on what workplace harassment and bullying is.

Rendle said WorkSafe's current guideline is not consistent with the definitions coming out of case law.

"Things like whether there needs to be intention to bully or a power imbalance and currently no statutory definition of what amounts to bullying [exists].

"So I imagine that's where the greater guidance is sought."

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