A Working Group chaired by Rt Hon Jim Bolger has reported back to the Government on the introduction of Fair Pay Agreements. Such agreements will set an industry wide platform of minimum entitlements. The recommendations include:
- Workers in any sector or occupational grouping can initiate bargaining if they represent a minimum of 1000 or 10% of workers, whichever is lower.
- Bargaining can also be initiated if there are “public interest” grounds, which is where there are deemed to be harmful labour market conditions.
- FPAs would cover all workers in the sector or occupational group, including independent contractors, not just employees.
- The minimum terms to be covered would include pay, overtime, penal rates, redundancy, leave, flexible working arrangements and hours of work.
- Employers can negotiate with employees or unions to offer terms over and above the minimum.
- Employee and employer groups will be represented by national representative bodies.
- There can be no recourse to industrial action during bargaining for a Fair Pay Agreement.
- Where a dispute cannot be resolved by mediation, the matter can be referred to the Employment Relations Authority for determination.
Ratification will occur if a simple majority of employees and employers vote in favour of the Fair Pay Agreement. Employers cannot opt out.
If implemented, these recommendations would have far reaching effect. Bargaining for a Fair Pay Agreement could be initiated with any employer, in any sector or occupational group. If ratified by 50% of affected employers, the agreement would bind all employers in that grouping with no ability to opt out.