Conference paper

Influencing workplace change: the New Zealand experience

Employment Australia New Zealand
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These presenters at the AIFS Conference 2008 have a range of experience across central government policy areas in New Zealand including labour market, education, women’s affairs and housing. The New Zealand Government has over the last 4 years been undertaking a range of initiatives to make sure that New Zealand’s workplaces are attractive, innovative and productive and that all people have opportunities to participate in well-paid and meaningful employment.

This paper provides a snapshot of these initiatives, their impact and lessons learnt about implementing government programmes in workplaces, particularly in relation to families and people with caring responsibilities. To provide a context for discussion, the paper gives a brief picture of New Zealand workplaces including the predominance of small and medium enterprises, the issues of productivity, skills shortages, increasing participation, and population changes and what this means for employers and employees dealing with work-life balance issues and caring responsibilities. The range of government programmes addressing workplace issues for people with caring responsibilities is outlined, followed by a discussion of the impact of a range of policy approaches. These include: Regulation - the paper draws on what we’ve learnt from a recent evaluation of parental leave in New Zealand and from research and consultation as part of the development of the flexible work arrangements legislation. Influence – the paper reflects on our high level work with social partners to promote work-life balance and flexible work initiatives and also reviews what we have learnt from specific workplace intervention programmes focused on workplace change.

The paper then discusses the key learnings from our experiences with regulation and workplace change programmes and what these mean for the future direction of government policy.

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