30 Sep 2010

MPs told gay workers fear 90-day trial

6:53 pm on 30 September 2010

MPs have been told that gay and lesbian workers may have to go back into the closet to avoid discrimination under the 90-day trial period for new workers.

Parliament is currently hearing submissions on the Employment Relations and Holiday Amendment Bill. Legislation will extend the 90-day trial to cover all workplaces.

The Council of Trade Unions told the industrial relations select committee on Thursday there are real fears among gay, lesbian and trans-gender workers about the 90-day trial period.

It says even though discrimination on the basis of sexuality is illegal, employers will not have to give a reason for dismissing someone during the trial period.

It says people may have hide their sexuality and that would feel like going back to 1984, before homosexual law reform.

Fears workers may be forced to cash-in leave

The Public Service Association says vulnerable workers could be forced to cash-in their fourth week of annual leave under proposed changes to the Holidays Act.

PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff told the select committee in theory cashing-in leave may require the agreement of all involved, but in reality many workers will get no choice.

Mr Wagstaff says employers will be in a strong position to tell workers that if they want a pay rise, they should cash-in their leave.

Mr Wagstaff also the select committee on Thursday that allowing employers to demand a medical certificate on the first day of sick leave is unreasonable and unworkable.

Changes cumbersome, says Business NZ

Business New Zealand says proposed changes to rules for union access to worksites are too cumbersome.

The organisation on Thursday made submissions in support of the Government's planned changes to employment law, including the 90-day trial period.

Employment relations policy manager Paul Mackay told the select committee the proposed changes for union access are more benign than most provisions around the world.

However, Mr Mackay says the process for unions seeking permission to visit worksites creates an unprecedented compliance infrastructure.