Written By: - Date published: 3:00 pm, April 1st, 2009 - 14 comments
Categories: spin - Tags: , , ,

No Right Turn exposes ineffectual government spin on the fire at will act. The select committee procedure would have improved the bill. Perhaps to the point that it at least lived up to the spin.

Earlier in the month, Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson warned employers not to abuse their new 90-day fire at will powers, saying that the government would monitor how employers were using the law. So I was quite surprised to read this section in Parliament’s annual financial review of the Department of Labour [PDF]:

The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2008 amended the Employment Relations Act 2000 to enable small and medium-sized employers to hire staff for trial periods of up to 90 days. We inquired about the impact of the recently passed legislation on the department’s workload. The department reprioritised its work programme to accommodate the additional work. Its focus has been on providing information to employers on the Act, and letting small employers know what they have to do to implement the new provisions. Only small numbers of inquiries have been received to date. The department has updated its online employment contract to provide the option of a standard clause. The department has no way of monitoring those who lose their jobs within 90 days, other than through the complaints procedure, nor has it the ability to report positive or negative impacts on the labour market. Outside of this administrative data, it will have access to data on the numbers of people returning to benefits administered by the Ministry of Social Development within a 90-day period.(Emphasis added)

So, basically it has no way of telling whether the law is being abused or not. Some “monitoring”. The warning was just spin, lies-to-children to get us to shut up and go away.

14 comments on ““Monitoring””

  1. BLiP 1

    What else can your expect when business gets this strategy under way months before the election:

    Our in-depth understanding of the processes of government
    and network of contacts across the political spectrum allow us to provide top-level strategic guidance on the machinations of government, the personalities and the politics behind the politics relevant to achieving your corporate objectives.

    There are few communications consultancies that truly understand the way party platforms are influenced and policies, law-making and political and legislative decision-making processes are initiated, implemented and often changed.

  2. Pat 2

    Why is someone posting as “The Standard”?

    When “The Standard” posts on The Standard, it gives the impression that this person is the original or pre-dominant authority on the site. Perhaps they should choose another name to post under.

    • lprent 2.1

      “The Standard” (also known as notices and features) is there to post content that is not written here. Like Drinking Liberally notices or content from other blogs or articles that could do with a wider audience.

      Generally it only has brief or no contributions from writers here, and isn’t original content.

  3. Pat – I almost posted the same comment. My understanding is that The Standard was to be used for public service announcements, not spin. LP might have to update the About page now 🙂

    This is trying to be constructive and not whinging. I think this is a genuine oversight and it would be much better to keep “The Standard” for generic posts otherwise it supports the view that the Standard has a standard view on issues.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    National is all about spin. The only people who are surprised that things aren’t the way National said they would be are the people who believed them.

    • Daveski 4.1

      DTB – I would hope that LP would see this isn’t about politics, Labour, or National but about The Standard. I think it is a genuine oversight but I will leave it at that.

  5. C’mon people! This is business-toady National we’re talking about. “Accountability” is what they do to political opponents and people they don’t give a rat’s about, not their mates! That’s why there is no effective accountability or redress in this 90-day sacking law.

  6. jimbo 6

    What, you mean they’ve passed a law that needs the people who are wronged to report the problem?


    • Felix 6.1

      Apparently you missed the part where Wilkinson lied about this and said the govt would be monitoring employers.

      It’s in the first sentence of I/S’s story (it is the story, really). I think you’re really brave for having a go at reading anyway though – keep at it.

      • jimbo 6.1.1

        God you can be smarmy sometimes, Felix. How about your ridiculous “lies” (and those of I/S in the story) repeatedly calling it a “fire at will” bill?

        It’s a BRAND NEW law. Most people would realize that “monitoring” would involve analyzing the complaints coming in and seeing if they are acceptable or not in context. You can’t do that until you’ve had the law in place for a while and seen what level of complaints come in. It’s not rocket science. It’s too soon to start shrilling yelling “Lies Lies!”

        But go ahead and have a cheap crack about whether or not I can read. What a Tool.

        • lprent

          The problem, which if you’d read the post you’d have seen, is that Kate Wilkinson said that “fire at will” act would be monitored for abuse by employers.

          What I/S pointed out was that there was no mechanism to actually monitor people being fired using the provisions of the act. The only way to monitor would be to look at complaints from people who probably don’t know how to complain. Hell I have no idea who I’d complain to myself if I hadn’t read I/S’es post.

          The obvious solution would have been requiring employers to report sacking people using the act’s provisions (and penalties for not reporting it). Then the department could have looked for employers abusing the procedure by repeatably firing people. However that would have had to have been embedded into the legislation. It probably would have been put in place if the bill had been put through the select committee.

          Without that, you can virtually guarantee that some obnoxious employers will abuse it – there is really nothing to stop them. Hell there aren’t any penalties as far as I can see even if they’re caught.

          It is a Fire At Will because there are no protections or monitoring. Kate Wilkinson must have been aware of that when she made her threat on “monitoring”. So this is pure bullshit spin – she was lying to the public.

          I’d agree with Felix – you didn’t read the post.

  7. jimbo 7

    I read the post, but perhaps you and Felix are in a better position than I am to know that as well…

    The problem with your approach is that it creates an entire layer of compliance and red tape right off the bat that may not be needed. All that regulatory oversight costs money which could be spent on schools, hospitals and other more important things.

    Again, if an employee feels aggrieved they can complain. If there are no complaints coming in, then why impose the additional layer of governmental monitoring just because you have an anti-employer bias and believe it will automatically be abused. Do employers have to notify some outside authority every time they hire, warn or fire an employee now? Does the PG process “work” anyway?

    Why not get male employers to self-notify each time they are left in the office with the pretty receptionist. Then we can cross-reference against the number of pretty receptionists who quit their jobs or have out-of-wedlock babies and from that data we’ll know whether how the law against sexually harassing your staff is working out.

    Alternatively, we can see what level of complaints come in over time and decide whether or not some additional oversight is needed.

    • lprent 7.1

      How about this then. The employers using the provisions of the act at the contract phase are required to give information on the provisions of the bill to, and get a signed receipt from the employee. This should be provided by the department, and including how to complain. If the employer is shown not to provide this information, it is a criminal offense under the act, carrying a mandatory prison sentence if proved.

      This is just getting the employers to hold stocks of the information, and to store the receipt. Very minimal.

      It also means that the employee has an ability to help with the ‘monitoring of abuses’.

      What good employer would object to this?

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Compliance strengthened for property speculation
    Inland Revenue is to gain greater oversight of land transfer information to ensure those buying and selling properties are complying with tax rules on property speculation. Cabinet has agreed to implement recommendation 99 of the Tax Working Group’s (TWG) final ...
    1 week ago
  • Plan to expand protection for Maui and Hector’s dolphins
    The Government is taking action to expand and strengthen the protection for Māui and Hector’s dolphins with an updated plan to deal with threats to these native marine mammals. Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash ...
    1 week ago
  • Cameras on vessels to ensure sustainable fisheries
    Commercial fishing vessels at greatest risk of encountering the rare Māui dolphin will be required to operate with on-board cameras from 1 November, as the next step to strengthen our fisheries management system. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Fisheries Minister ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Greatest number of new Police in a single year
    A new record for the number of Police officers deployed to the regions in a single year has been created with the graduation today of Recruit Wing 326. Police Minister Stuart Nash says the graduation of 78 new constables means ...
    3 weeks ago