web analytics

Fire at Will coming to your workplace

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, November 24th, 2010 - 33 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags:

As of April 1 next year, I’m going to be a whole lot less confident moving to a new job. If I do, I’ll probably find the new contract gives the boss the right to fire me without giving me the right to justice if the firing is unfair. Reducing workers’ confidence to change jobs is just one of the stupid consequences of universal Fire at Will.

Fire at Will is a bad boss’s charter. It’s only bad bosses that need to be able to fire someone without going through due process (which isn’t a lengthy process and can be instant dismissal in the case of severe mis-conduct). It’s only bad bosses that would be unwilling to right down the reasons for firing someone. It’s only bosses that fail to give their employees natural justice who have anything to fear from the employment courts.

As we’re already seeing, removing the right of employees to natural justice and their right to access the courts if they believe their dismissal is unjustified results in bad bosses treating their workers appallingly. The CTU has released numerous stories of workers losing their livelihoods because of Fire at Will and I know personally of half a dozen other cases where the worker has refused to go public. It’s just the beginning.

They say that Fire at Will will only be by agreement between the boss and the worker but the reality is that bosses will be allowed to make Fire at Will a condition of employment and with quarter of a million jobless Kiwis which worker is going to be able to walk away from a job offer because it includes the Fire at Will provision?

And when you start a job with Fire at Will, will you be willing to speak up about poor health and safety conditions? Will you stand up to your boss if a co-worker is being mistreated? Will you demand your entitlements if the boss underpays you? Will you confront a boss about sexual harassment or discrimination? Will you be brave enough to join a union?

All these things will become very hard to do now because the boss can just turn around and fire you for ‘performance issues’ and you will have no right to contest that dismissal in court.

A whole lot of workers will simply not take the risk of changing jobs. Hardly the recipe for a dynamic workforce.

Let’s not pretend that Fire at Will and the other anti-worker changes (blocking your union rep’s access to your workplace, requiring doctor’s notes for one day’s sick leave) are anything more than ways of weakening the power of labour to bargain with capital. It’s all about ensuring that wages and conditions get worse and National’s base gets to pocket more cash.

It’s short-termist and ultimately self-defeating, of course, because you end up with low-income consumers and an unmotivated, inflexible workforce but when has capitalism ever been about the long-term?

33 comments on “Fire at Will coming to your workplace ”

  1. Tiger Mountain 1

    Two positive angles of this ‘fire at will’ law are that it will assist union recruitment and it also applies to national voters–enjoy your medicine tory swine!

  2. M 2

    Wow Eddie, what a fabulous piece and I’m in total agreement with the fire at will being nothing more than a convenient cloak with which bad employers can hide their incompetence in not using due process.

    Worker entitlements is any area that is very much open for abuse and I’m glad I’m up with the play because many times an employer I’ve worked for have tried to play fast and loose with worker entitlements re payment of sick leave etc and I’ve got on the phone to the DOL or printed stuff off from the website to show I’m correct in what I’m saying. I’ve always followed up any such evidence by asking them, “Are you asking me to break the law?” to which the silence is deafening and the worker gets their due. I hate to think of all the abuse that is going on out there at the moment without this proposed assault on workers’ rights.

    Most employers encounter problems because they let certain behaviours go on too long before addressing them and then explode one day whereas had they followed the correct procedure they’d have a leg to stand on – I have no sympathy for them.

    • burt 2.1

      I’m in total agreement with the fire at will being nothing more than a convenient cloak with which bad employers can hide their incompetence in not using due process.

      Funny, I thought the govt of the day decided what due process was not the unions. Oh well…

      • Bright Red 2.1.1

        due process is laid out in the Employment Relations Act.

        This new law prevents workers with Fire at Will clauses from accessing it.

  3. Jim Nald 3

    Has key given up closing the gap with australia and is now ambitiously closing the gap with china??

  4. millsy 4

    All workers are now expendable.

    Frankly if an employer feels that they can only hire somone if they can get rid of them if things ‘dont work out’ (whatever that means), then we really need to take a long hard look at ourselves.

    • pollywog 4.1

      i saw a freeview 7 doco this week on tea workers in sri lanka and kenya where they are only employed for 3 months at a time to avoid employers paying full time worker benefits if employed for longer.

      consequently they get fired after 2-3months then hired again with some being employed in this manner for the last 10 yrs or so.

      is that where this is going or is that already going on here with the likes of ‘the hobbit’ fiasco and the contractors vs employees thing ?

    • prism 4.2

      millsy – I hear that the current phrase (euphemism) for employers sacking someone is “You’re not the right fit for us”. Frankly I think that the pollies and employers have plugged into the generation-think that finds competitive reality shows to be good entertainment, with everyone voting at each session as to who should be dropped from the group. I always thought that was an ugly model and now it has become reality reality.

      • Vicky32 4.2.1

        I wish I knew what ‘not the right fit’ actually means! (It’s the phrase used when I am turned down for jobs, and it’s so vague it drives me round the bend…) If it’s used when firing people, it’s even less use!

  5. Bill 5

    “Will you be brave enough to join a union?”

    This is where unions have to get off their arses. Currently, most unions are structured in such a fashion that it’s not really feasible to unionise small workplaces. The ERA doesn’t bloody well help either with it’s emphasis on time consuming mediations etc chewing up time that organisers could otherwise spend organising.

    My point. If no union signs off on a collective agreement containing a ‘fire at will’ clause, then there would be a massive incentive for a new employee to join the union straight off the bat. But like I say. Unions have to find ways to be effective in workplaces they have previously by-passed as being too difficult and too small.

    ‘Fire at Will’ could be the best thing that happened to unionism and by extension workers in general, in this country for a long time.

    • burt 5.1

      So you are saying the unions should decide which laws they follow and include in their collective agreement. Will end in tears…..

      • Bright Red 5.1.1

        Um. burt. Fire at Will wasn’t complusory. Unions are free to make no Fire at Will a condition of their collective bargaining if they choose.

        Of course, individual workers rarely bargain over their individual contracts, and the boss can impose Fire at Will on them

        • felix

          burt, like a good little ACToid, is looking ahead to the final solution.

          Not yet, burt. Soon, but not yet.

          • Shamy

            Hows that whole Union protesting against the employment law changes thing going Felix?

            Not exactly getting much public support or momentum are we!

            Conclusion – real NZ’ers support changes or at worse (best) are indifferent

            • felix

              Why are you asking me? I don’t speak for any union – I’m not even currently a member of one.

              I’m yet to speak to a worker who agrees with you though. I guess I just don’t meet any real NZers out here in fantasy land.

      • Bill 5.1.2

        No burt. I’m suggesting that unions use their bargaining power to block any adoption of ‘Fire at Will’ clauses in the Agreements they negotiate.

        And I’m suggesting they re-organise themselves in ways that would better facilitate the unionising of smaller workplaces so that by April 1 workers coming into those workplaces have a life line.

        I’d suggest they employ organisers whose sole purpose is to unionise green sites and initiate bargaining. I’d suggest they draw up broad ranging, MECA templates now and get them in place where possible, so that new workplaces fall within the parameters of those proposed MECA’s thereby saving much time and energy that would otherwise be sent on drawing up unique Agreements for each and every workplace. Any differing conditions or terms of a newly unionised workplace could then be written is as additional schedules attached to fairly encompassing generic terms and conditions of basic MECAs.

        In business terms you might say that it’s time for the unions to speculate in order to accumulate, no?

        Oh. And I’d suggest that they work more as a single body than as a set of distinct union bodies.

        • The Voice of Reason

          Er, Bill, all that stuffs going on as we speak.

          The CTU is looking at setting up a low cost organising centre where isolated workers/small workplaces can have access to basic union support. Most of the larger unions employ fulltime recruiters now, but for practical reasons, that’s mostly at worksites with larger work forces. And as for template MECA’s, the EPMU’s Metals MECA covers dozens of small and medium sites, so if there is a workplace wanting that sort of thing, they’ve only got ring them. It’s free to call, too. 0800186466 or epmu.org.nz for the webbed up.

          • Bill

            With due respect VoR, the metals and plastics MECA only covers that or those industries only and even then, if my memory serves me correct, there can be problems getting new ‘third party’ employers covered by it…even where a majority of employees wish that to be the case.

            I envisage more of a Retail and Service MECA (say) with open third party involvement (either another union or workplace) that could cover a geographical area (say Hamilton). A couple of years ago I and some others looked at such an initiative but were stymied by an Employment Court decision at the time. I can’t remember the details and have no idea if it was challenged or if if any challenge was successful.

            As for union support for workers in small workplaces that have no CEA, the practical support is necessarily limited with regards application of Fire at Will…or any other issue for that matter.

      • Jenny 5.1.3

        Strike at will.

        Does that sound fair to you burt?

  6. Tiger Mountain 6

    Indulge me Standard readers, a brief real world scenario, I have a niece, 3 years of uni, event management grad that had to give up a long standing paid retail gig to do months of unpaid ‘internship’ (aka slaving) and not only has no job but when she does get one in that precarious industry will now be subject to ‘fire at will’. Some kiwis may have eaten enough shit sandwiches to like the taste, but thankfully a lot of us have not.

    • pollywog 6.1

      …sounds like shes in for a long hard slog as a freelancer building up a flash as work history before becoming a ‘made man’ as an employee TM

      • Tiger Mountain 6.1.1

        You’re not wrong P, my son is working for a pretty cool food catering co. in film industry over hols prior to his final uni year and has made some good contacts, not that he necessarily wants to go there. The thing with this new law is that it puts more obstacles in front of our young people just starting out.

        • The Voice of Reason

          Last friday night in the pub, I talked with a guy who’d changed islands, uprooted his family, moved to a city where he knew noone, all at the request of his new employer. Fired on the 90th day. Not happy, not happy at all.

          • Tiger Mountain

            Voice; will Burt and others recover from our daring theory meets reality exposé’s?

            • bbfloyd

              TM.. they have to be able to admit to having a problem before the rehab can start.

            • The Voice of Reason

              … does not compute, does not compute … self destruct mode enabled ….pfffft

              • Rob

                Tiger Mountain, I am not suprised your neice is having difficulty getting a role in the event management industry. Not many corporates or businesses are running major events / product releases etc. We are mainly crippled by this recession.

                • Tiger Mountain

                  Not a point I really sought to make Rob, but you have nonetheless touched on the matter of “where are the jobs…”. My substantive view is about the ugly employment environment for those that do score an opportunity. Heard a lovely job name from the USA recently-‘perma-temp’. Kinda like the the All Black footballers rotational management by stress policy.

        • pollywog

          yeah it’s a tough one eh ?…my eldest is giving up a good job with prospects in retail to make her place in the world studying down in Dunnerz for who knows how long starting next year

          she says she doesnt want to miss out on the uni thing while shes young and can always go back to retail.

          but shes damn good at selling, customer relations and has been earmarked for future management.

  7. Hi Eddy,

    It’s write not right in this case.

    Other than that I agree with your post completely. Together with the proposed changes in welfare such as limited time dole, and forced to work for the dole and you will have a tired, uncooperative hostile workforce.
    But perhaps that is needed to wake the sheeple up to the fact that our rich overlords will never ever give us anything we are not prepared to revolt over.

    With two million people loosing their benefits on the 1th of December in the US and some 10 million in the process of losing their homes in the middle of winter we can see first hand what happens if you don’t fight back.

    • Tiger Mountain 7.1

      Hey Trav,
      have you seen the movie “The Road” with actor Viggo Mortensen etc? it is not stretching it too much for that scenario to be the USA in a few years.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Radhakrishnan to attend international forum tackling people smuggling and trafficking
    Associate Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Priyanca Radhakrishnan will lead the New Zealand delegation at the Eighth Bali Process Ministerial Conference tomorrow. Minister Radhakrishnan will join other Ministers and business leaders from the Indo-Pacific region to promote international cooperation in the global fight against people smuggling and trafficking in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Carbon positive project to research impact of regenerative farming practices
    The Government is backing new research on the potential of regenerative farming practices to boost soil carbon in arable, vegetable and other crop growing systems, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced. “We’re committing more than $2 million over six years in Hawke’s Bay to help build up an evidence base on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Government takes new direction with policy refocus
    Work on the TVNZ/RNZ public media entity to stop; Radio NZ and NZ on Air to receive additional funding Social insurance scheme will not proceed this term The Human Rights (Incitement on Ground of Religious Belief) Amendment Bill to be withdrawn and not progressed this term. The matter to be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • $5 million support package for flood affected Auckland businesses
    The Government is providing a $5 million package of emergency support to help businesses significantly affected by the recent flooding in Auckland. This includes: $3 million for flood recovery payments to help significantly affected businesses $1 million for mental wellbeing support through a boost to the First Steps programme $1 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Temporary Accommodation Service activated to help flood affected Aucklanders
    The Government’s Temporary Accommodation Service (TAS) has been activated to support people displaced by the severe flooding and landslips in the Auckland region, Housing Minister Megan Woods says.  “TAS is now accepting registrations for people who cannot return to their homes and need assistance finding temporary accommodation.  The team will work ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Prime Ministers’ meeting reaffirms close trans-Tasman relationship
    Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese today held their first bilateral meeting in Canberra. It was Chris Hipkins’ first overseas visit since he took office, reflecting the close relationship between New Zealand and Australia. “New Zealand has no closer partner than Australia. I was pleased to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Immediate humanitarian support to Türkiye and Syria following earthquakes
    New Zealand will immediately provide humanitarian support to those affected by the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. “Aotearoa New Zealand is deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation caused by these earthquakes. Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones affected,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Pākinga Pā site to be gifted back to local hapū
    An historic Northland pā site with links to Ngāpuhi chief Hongi Hika is to be handed back to iwi, after collaboration by government, private landowners and local hapū. “It is fitting that the ceremony for the return of the Pākinga Pā site is during Waitangi weekend,” said Regional Development Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New initiatives to unlock Māori science and research resources
    The Government is investing in a suite of initiatives to unlock Māori and Pacific resources, talent and knowledge across the science and research sector, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. Two new funds – He tipu ka hua and He aka ka toro – set to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Advancing our relationship in India
    Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta departs for India tomorrow as she continues to reconnect Aotearoa New Zealand to the world.  The visit will begin in New Delhi where the Foreign Minister will meet with the Vice President Hon Jagdeep Dhankar and her Indian Government counterparts, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government Northland housing investment to spark transformational change
    Over $10 million infrastructure funding to unlock housing in Whangārei The purchase of a 3.279 hectare site in Kerikeri to enable 56 new homes Northland becomes eligible for $100 million scheme for affordable rentals Multiple Northland communities will benefit from multiple Government housing investments, delivering thousands of new homes for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government investment safeguards Waitangi Treaty Grounds
    The Government is supporting one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant historic sites, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, as it continues to recover from the impacts of COVID-19. “The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are a taonga that we should protect and look after. This additional support will mean people can continue to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Battle of Ohaeawai remembered
    A memorial event at a key battle site in the New Zealand land wars is an important event to mark the progress in relations between Māori and the Crown as we head towards Waitangi Day, Minister for Te Arawhiti Kelvin Davis said. The Battle of Ohaeawai in June 1845 saw ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • More Police deployed to the frontline
    More Police officers are being deployed to the frontline with the graduation of 54 new constables from the Royal New Zealand Police College today. The graduation ceremony for Recruit Wing 362 at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua was the first official event for Stuart Nash since his reappointment as Police ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Further support for upper North Island regions hit by significant weather
    The Government is unlocking an additional $700,000 in support for regions that have been badly hit by the recent flooding and storm damage in the upper North Island. “We’re supporting the response and recovery of Auckland, Waikato, Coromandel, Northland, and Bay of Plenty regions, through activating Enhanced Taskforce Green to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • The Princess Royal to visit New Zealand
    Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has welcomed the announcement that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, will visit New Zealand this month. “Princess Anne is travelling to Aotearoa at the request of the NZ Army’s Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals, of which she is Colonel in Chief, to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government and horticulture sector target $12b in exports by 2035
    A new Government and industry strategy launched today has its sights on growing the value of New Zealand’s horticultural production to $12 billion by 2035, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said. “Our food and fibre exports are vital to New Zealand’s economic security. We’re focussed on long-term strategies that build on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Cost of living support extended for families and businesses
    25 cents per litre petrol excise duty cut extended to 30 June 2023 – reducing an average 60 litre tank of petrol by $17.25 Road User Charge discount will be re-introduced and continue through until 30 June Half price public transport fares extended to the end of June 2023 saving ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • More Kiwis in work as rising wages match inflation
    The strong economy has attracted more people into the workforce, with a record number of New Zealanders in paid work and wages rising to help with cost of living pressures. “The Government’s economic plan is delivering on more better-paid jobs, growing wages and creating more opportunities for more New Zealanders,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government boosts fund for Auckland flooding
    The Government is providing a further $1 million to the Mayoral Relief Fund to help communities in Auckland following flooding, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty announced today. “Cabinet today agreed that, given the severity of the event, a further $1 million contribution be made. Cabinet wishes to be proactive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Cabinet focused on bread and butter issues
    The new Cabinet will be focused on core bread and butter issues like the cost of living, education, health, housing and keeping communities and businesses safe, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has announced. “We need a greater focus on what’s in front of New Zealanders right now. The new Cabinet line ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister to meet with PM Albanese
    Prime Minister Chris Hipkins will travel to Canberra next week for an in person meeting with Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese. “The trans-Tasman relationship is New Zealand’s closest and most important, and it was crucial to me that my first overseas trip as Prime Minister was to Australia,” Chris Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government makes first payment to Auckland Flooding fund
    The Government is providing establishment funding of $100,000 to the Mayoral Relief Fund to help communities in Auckland following flooding, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty announced. “We moved quickly to make available this funding to support Aucklanders while the full extent of the damage is being assessed,” Kieran McAnulty ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government steps up to assist Auckland during flooding
    As the Mayor of Auckland has announced a state of emergency, the Government, through NEMA, is able to step up support for those affected by flooding in Auckland. “I’d urge people to follow the advice of authorities and check Auckland Emergency Management for the latest information. As always, the Government ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Poroporoaki: Titewhai Te Huia Hinewhare Harawira
    Ka papā te whatitiri, Hikohiko ana te uira, wāhi rua mai ana rā runga mai o Huruiki maunga Kua hinga te māreikura o te Nota, a Titewhai Harawira Nā reira, e te kahurangi, takoto, e moe Ka mōwai koa a Whakapara, kua uhia te Tai Tokerau e te kapua pōuri ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Enhanced Task Force Green Approved following Cyclone Hale
    Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social Development and Employment, has activated Enhanced Taskforce Green (ETFG) in response to flooding and damaged caused by Cyclone Hale in the Tairāwhiti region. Up to $500,000 will be made available to employ job seekers to support the clean-up. We are still investigating whether other parts ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago