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My children are now at an age where they are attending child care two days per week. I respect the early childhood workers involved in that business; they do a great job of caring for a number of very young children, providing a supportive learning and play environment, while effectively managing all important routines.

The Government’s proposed Employment Relations Amendment Bill has the potential to affect these workers and many others across the country. Changes include the tighter restrictions around meal and rest breaks – the reality of which could see an early childhood worker legally expected to leave a child part way through a nappy change, or at story or meal time. To me, that is unthinkable and I doubt staff would obey that rule.

The Labour-led Government’s intent is to make the conditions of employment better for workers, but the way they are going about it is ill thought out.

Businesses are the backbone of our communities. We need them to be successful. National’s proposed amendments seek to push back on changes to employment law that will hurt both businesses and everyday New Zealanders, including our most vulnerable workers.

Our changes include retaining 90-day trials for all businesses. The scary reality is that there will be less jobs due to the cost and risk of employment that employers will be forced to absorb if they choose to take on unproven or lower skilled staff without a 90 day trial. The figures are unarguable; over 10,000 jobs a month were created in the two years before the 2017 election. Since the election this has plummeted to 4000 a month.

We are pushing to ensure union officials have to get permission to enter a workplace, avoiding un-necessary Health and Safety risks around unions being able to enter a workplace without notice.

The Bill – if passed – is especially troubling for small business owners who do their best to keep afloat, manage their costs and strive to grow, creating more jobs. They have the least ability to absorb the impact of costs outside their control, such as are implied by the Government’s proposed legislation.

A good industrial relations framework and a flexible labour market are critical to a strong and growing economy, which provides the best opportunities for employers and employees. This is what I’m fighting hard for.

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