Business needs a breather and helping hand


Even in what we hope is a post-COVID lock down world we know that businesses face ongoing challenges. And while there are a couple of ropes up the cliff to help you get back on top, we also know there is a lot coming that is not going to make that easy.

Many of you reliant on trade with Australia would have been relieved to see the trans-Tasman bubble opening, not just for your staff personally and
professionally but your customers.   

But unfortunately, this does not address the skilled migrant worker issue and we know that skills shortages remain a significant problem for businesses big and small. The Government is developing a new immigration policy, but we think the issue is wider than that.

As the EMA advocated before the last election, it is time for a much bigger piece of work – a population strategy. It is critical to many parts of the economy and New Zealand life.

We need to decide how big we want our country to be as that is what drives infrastructure, housing, and health policy, and in turn means thinking about what skills we want in our population as these will determine our skills mix for immigrants, as well as our education system.

Training, education, skills, and immigration are a critical policy mix for New Zealand as we have a rapidly ageing workforce (in the top three ageing populations in the world), which coupled with our declining birth rate which is now well below what is required to replenish our working population, the time is now.

Along with the big picture issues like this, there are a huge number of other policy and legislative changes facing businesses.

The minimum wage recently rose to $20 an hour, which is the third in a series of increases that have seen the minimum wage rise more than 25 per cent in the past three years. But is raising wages what drives the productivity which enables businesses to grow?

It is also only one piece of business-focused legislation or policy that is on the Government’s agenda, and that is it in a nutshell really. It is the cumulative effect of this and the other policy and legislative changes that have been signalled,including:

  • An additional five days’ sick leave in 2021
  • The 2022 Matariki public holiday at an estimated cost of $400 million to
  • Fair Pay Agreements that will create new minimum wage scales across several sectors by the end of 2021
  • Easier access to Pay Equity negotiations – creating new minimum wage thresholds across several sectors
  • A new Holidays Act by 2023
  • Wider obligations from Government for its contractors to pay the Living Wage.

As part of the BusinessNZ Network we are talking to Government about these issues regularly, providing your feedback and helping shape their response, businesses simply needs a bit of a breather.

At a practical level, we are here to support our members with expert on-tap advice, advocacy, events, business services and learning, so that together we can help your business succeed. The EMA has been here for you for 135 years, we are keen to hear from you and we are here to listen.

Brett O’Riley

EMA Chief Executive


About Author

Waikato Business News

Your source for local business news in Waikato

Leave A Reply