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Holidays Bill Removes Flexibility

The Holidays (Four Weeks Annual Leave) Bill will significantly reduce the ability of employees to enter into employment agreements which best reflect their unique needs and circumstances, says Federated Farmers Vice President Charlie Pedersen.

In a submission to the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee today, Mr Pedersen acknowledged the need to review the Holidays legislation but highlighted some key issues of concern.

"Federated Farmers estimates that an extra week's leave will cost the average farmer or sharemilker $1000 per employee. In a highly competitive marketplace it is difficult to absorb costs so the long-term result may be that staff salaries are held at current levels to reflect the extra costs.

"In other words there is only so much money available for each employee's pay package and if an extra week's leave become mandatory, deductions will inevitably be made from their remuneration package.

"We all need time away from work to rest and spend time with family, but the Holidays Bill limits the options of employees who may prefer to work and retain income, rather than take an extra week's holiday if it is going to mean they are paid less overall. Farmers and their staff already enjoy a desirable lifestyle that allows them to spend time with their families throughout the day.

"For young people in the dairy industry who wish to make the step to owning a herd building capital is a more specific goal than taking a holiday. Equally students saving for tertiary education will be more focused on building up their cash reserves.

"Equally inexperienced staff often seeks training options within their employment agreement. There is a limit to the disposable income on farms and if it is directed to increased minimum standards then options including training and bonuses or improvements to working conditions may be compromised.

"This is just another example of the state thinking they know best. The carrot of an extra week's annual leave is a useful incentive to attract labour in a tight employment market but it should be left to the individual to negotiate an employment agreement that best suits their goals and aspirations."

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