A trial period where employers can sack workers without prompting a grievance claim is actually "pro-worker" says Business New Zealand.
The lobby group said today the incoming Government had listened to "the key problems facing small businesses" by moving urgently to bring in a 90-day worker trial period.
Business NZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly says it is a policy used by just about every other developed country in the world - many with longer trial periods - and "is an accepted part of their industrial relations framework."
"We would not normally support urgency for new legislation, however in this case the policy has been well developed over a period of time and well flagged in advance of the election.
O'Reilly said the decision to bring in the law under urgency was not unreasonable, since there had already been an extensive select committee process for an earlier bill from National MP Wayne Mapp.
"This policy does not remove any of the human rights protections for employees under law," he said. "Most important, we are facing an economic downturn when jobs are most at risk and small businesses are least likely to hire."
The least skilled, most marginal employees, those most at risk of not gaining jobs, would get the most benefit, said O'Reilly.
EPMU national secretary Andrew Little said the "fire at will legislation" was an attack on all Kiwi workers.
"National's fire at will policy is being sold as a 'probation' period. It's not. The current employment law already allows for a probation period including a fair process to protect employees from abuse, all National is proposing is to take away the fair process.
"The fact John Key's government wants to rush this through under urgency is undemocratic and goes right against the good faith principles of the current law, it just denies workers a voice on something that directly affects them.
"In the worst economic crisis in a century when the Government should be lifting confidence for business and workers, they are intent on shattering workers' confidence.
"There are a lot of Kiwis who will be facing redundancy over the next few months and they won't be happy to discover that John Key's Christmas gift to them is to further undermine their employment security."
In 2006, Wayne Mapp's bill failed at its second reading after the Maori Party decided not to support it.
The bill was strongly opposed by unions, who protested nationwide.
- HERALD ONLINE