ERP dialogue plea

THE Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCEF) is willing to engage in more discussions on the proposed changes to be made to the Employment Regulation Promulgation (ERP) Amendment Bill of 2016.

FCEF CEO Nesbitt Hazelman said there were a few issues that the federation wanted to discuss with Government on the proposed changes.

“These proposed amendments include some of the things that our discussions surround and they include qualifiers for leave and the ramifications on employers who don’t abide by the proposed ERP,” he said.

“In the past or what is recommended if there is a company that is defaulting they are fined or are given jail terms and we are saying no to that. What we are saying is we should get them to continuously improve their operations so that first of all their employees continue to be employed by them and, secondly, the company does not go out of business.

“However, should they continue to offend then by all means they should be issued with spot fines, but the fines should not lead to the criminalisation of the company.

“Those are some of the sticky areas that we are talking about.”

Mr Hazelman said the qualifier for leave of each employee was an issue that the federation was to air out with the state.

“The qualifiers that we are talking about include bereavement leave, sick leave and even maternity leave.

“Right now if you take on a new employee, the person can’t go on sick leave. After three months then he or she would be entitled to sick leave.”

He said these situations had a direct impact on the cost of doing business.

“We’d like to minimise that,” Mr Hazelman said.

“We’d like to transfer those gains into paying our employees more, having better services for workers and even have wellbeing programs in place.

This sort of money can go into those sorts of activities.

“We are very mindful in terms of any changes that are coming in as part of the ERP redesign on the cost of doing business. That is the premise that we are coming into as far as negotiations are concerned.”

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