The Employment Relations Amendment Bill (ERAB) introduced to Parliament on 26 April 2013 contains amendments to the Employment Relations Act (ERA) that go further than previously proposed. A few noteworthy points are:
- The Employment Relations Authority members will be required to give an oral decision, or indication of its preliminary findings, at the conclusion of an investigation hearing.
- Flexible working arrangement requests are to be extended to all employees when their employment begins.
- Greater scope for employers to withhold information, particularly where information is about an identifiable individual other than the affected employee; evaluative or opinion material compiled for the purpose of making a decision that will, or is likely to, have an adverse effect on the continuation of the employee’s employment; or about the identity of the person who supplied the evaluative or opinion material.
- Rather than rest and meal break entitlements being decided by reference to the hours worked by an employee, the amendments simply require employers to provide their employees with a ‘reasonable opportunity’ for ‘rest, refreshment and attention to personal matters’. Also, the obligation to provide breaks will not have to be met where employers cannot reasonably do so, having regard to the nature of the employee’s work, for example, an air traffic controller.
The ERAB also contains changes to Part 6A (continuity of employment provisions) and the collective bargaining provisions of the ERA. A copy of the ERAB can be found here.
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