Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fairness and Job Security

Posted by Chris On August - 1 - 2010

One of the most important things someone can have in life is a stable job. Our jobs give us security, the chance to put down roots and plan for the future. When we make big decisions like buying a house or starting a family our job security will be one of the main factors we take into account. So why on earth would the National government want to mess with that job security? That’s exactly what they’re doing with their planned changes to labour laws.

The way he talks about it, John Key’s 90 day probationary period may seem harmless enough on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you’ll soon find that anyone changing job could find themselves signing up for the dole faster than they can say ‘but why was I fired?’. National’s new law allows an employer to sack someone without notice and without a reason. That’s just not fair.

Nobody should find themselves out of a job for no good reason. If someone switches job, why should their new employer be able to sack them after 3 months on nothing more than a whim? Who will be willing to step-up to a more challenging job in those circumstances? How is that going to help us catch up with the wage rates people can earn by moving to Australia?

National’s proposed changes to the laws around sick leave have also set alarm bells ringing. There won’t be a parent anywhere in New Zealand who wouldn’t be concerned at the prospect of having to get a doctors certificate every time they take a day off to recover from a cold or look after a sick child. I can’t imagine our local GPs will be thrilled at the prospect of people queuing up outside their surgeries just because they took a day off work either.

I’d rather encourage sick Kiwis to take a day or two off to recover rather than trying to soldier on when they’re under the weather. Unfortunately we’re developing a culture where anyone who looks after their health, or the health of their families, is deemed to be a shirker. I’ve often heard the quip, ‘if it was good enough for Colin Meads to play with a broken arm you can go to work with a head cold’.

But actually that’s not the attitude we should be taking. If we go to work when we’re sick we’ll only end up spreading our germs to others. Our productivity will be down and if we’re in a job where a lapse in concentration can create a safety issue, then we could well be putting ourselves and others at far more serious risk. Why not encourage people to stay home and get better? That’s what good employers already do.

Most New Zealand employees are hard, honest workers trying to do a fair days work for a fair days pay. John Key’s government is labelling all of them as dishonest shirkers who are out to rip-off the boss. Mr Key and his colleagues seem to think that the only party in the employment relationship who can be trusted is the employer. That just doesn’t ring true to me.

I think all Kiwi workers deserve to be treated with fairness and respect at work. John Key’s proposed changes to our labour laws will be repealed when Labour is next in government. We want to see Kiwis earning better wages, enjoying a higher standard of living and enjoying life. Attacking someone’s job security and rights at work plays no part in that vision.

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