Former National Prime Minister Jim Bolger is urging his former party to respond with calmness to his Fair Pay Agreement report and its recommendations.

But in a statement, National workplace relations spokesman Scott Simpson said the report's recommendations would hurt the economy, damage productivity and was "democratically offensive".

"Iain Lees-Galloway may have got the recommendations he wanted when he stacked the Working Group with unionists and academics," he said.

The Fair Pay Agreement working group, chaired by Bolger, delivered almost 50 recommendations to Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway this morning.


The group, which was formed in June last year, recommended fair pay agreements cover all employers and that workers should be able to initiate a Fair Pay Agreement if they can meet a minimum threshold of 1000 people, or 10 per cent of workers in the sector or occupation, whichever was lower.

These recommendations appeared to be the ones which both National and businesses were most worried about.

"The idea that one in 10 employees, or 1000 across an industry, can trigger mandatory nationwide employment negotiations is democratically offensive," Simpson said.

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope, who was also a member of the Fair Pay Agreement working group, said the compulsory nature of fair pay agreements and the risk of industrial action and productivity loss were key concerns.

"Being covered by a fair pay agreement would be compulsory for everyone in an industry or sector. We disagree with this and think the decision to enter any employment agreement should be voluntary."

Bolger, who became Prime Minister in 1990, said he wanted National to respond to the report with "calmness and just say there are issued raised here that we as a party in Parliament need to reflect on".

"The most disappointing [outcome] would be if they were to dismiss [the report] it as of no consequence.

"My old party has to accept, as they do, that the world is changing and we have to change to keep ahead."


National also expressed concerns with what Simpson described as the lack of opt-out provisions for businesses.

Bolger said the majority of the panel said it should be compulsory for employers to be part of an agreement.

He said the minority disagreed and said there should be more opt-outs.

"I think the element of compulsion that the majority went for, was a reasonable compromise going forward if we want to have a fair and balanced society."

On the 10 per cent trigger, Bolger said it was a "low-level trigger" and Cabinet could decide whether or not to change that figure.

But the majority of the panel believed it would be beneficial to enable the process to start with a relatively low threshold.


Asked about the trigger point, Lees-Galloway said he would consider it thoughtfully.

He would not put a timeline on how long it would take before Fair Pay Agreement legislation comes before the House.

"But having done all the work in bringing the report together," Bolger said after Lees-Galloway had finished answering, "we would like to see it advanced; we don't want to see it sitting on the shelf."

"No fear of that, Jim," Lees-Galloway replied.