Criteria for approval
Employment Relations Education courses are approved for two purposes:
- to exercise the statutory right to educational leave for eligible employees under Part 7 of the Employment Relations Act 2000.
- to enable funding for courses to be obtained from the Employment Relations Education Contestable Fund.
To exercise the statutory right to ERE leave
To gain approval of their course applicants must ensure that their course furthers the objective of ERE leave set out in section 70 of the Employment Relations Act 2000, that is, to increase employees' knowledge about employment relations for the purpose of:
- improving relations among unions, employees, and employers, and
- promoting the object of the Act, especially the duty of good faith.
To enable funding from the ERE Contestable Fund
If an application is being made to the ERE Contestable Fund in relation to a course, applicants must ensure that the course is consistent with or relevant to the objectives of the Employment Relations Act 2000, namely:
- to build productive employment relationships through the promotion of good faith in all aspects of the employment environment and of the employment relationship by:
- recognising that employment relationships must be built on good faith behaviour
- acknowledging and addressing the inherent inequality of bargaining power in employment relationships
- promoting collective bargaining
- protecting the integrity of individual choice
- promoting mediation as the primary problem-solving mechanism
- reducing the need for judicial intervention.
- to promote the effective enforcement of employment standards, in particular by conferring enforcement powers on Labour Inspectors, the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court.
- to promote observance in New Zealand of the principles underlying International Labour Organisation Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, and Convention 98 on the Right to Organise and Bargain Collectively.
ERE courses should also recognise the complementary legislation governing employment relations within which ERE courses must operate, which includes (but is not limited to) the Human Rights Act 1993, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and the Privacy Act 1993.
In particular ERE courses should be designed to provide the skills and knowledge relevant in employment relations in a manner that recognises and reduces current gaps in the access to information, resources, and skills.
Criteria for consistency with the Act
Courses may deliver skill development and knowledge, including but not limited to the following areas:
- The principles underlying good faith behaviour, including the specifics of any code of good faith applicable to the employees and employers concerned
- Behaviours and processes that enhance the good faith relationship
- The ability to assess and convey to others information exchanged during employment interactions, and
- Participating in the institutions established under the Act.
- Processes, behaviours and communication skills that lead to the creation of mutual trust and confidence
- Concepts of employee and union participation in the workplace, and
- Understanding of the rights and obligations of both employee and employer in the workplace.
- The ability to recognise and respond to the legislative concepts of unfair bargaining and minimum employment standards.
- The legislative underpinnings of the collective bargaining process
- Bargaining skills and behaviours, and
- Communication skills and behaviours.
- The legislative requirements for the establishment and maintenance of independent and democratic unions
- Methods of union organisation giving maximum opportunities for participation and influence to employees, and
- The processes and structures of policy development, decision making and governance within the union.
- The rights and obligations of employees and employers for health and safety in the workplace
- Programs of risk analysis and problem solving, and
- Effective representation skills, tools in risk analysis, and training.
- The history of and past and present relevance of the Treaty of Waitangi to employment relations
- Workplace issues of specific significance to Maori and Pacific Island employees, and
- Establishing an employment culture that contributes to closing the gaps for Maori and Pacific Island employees
- The structure of enterprise and industry economics affecting the employer and employees
- Career, production and remuneration systems applicable to the workplace or industry
- Economic structures, institutions and processes in New Zealand that are relevant to employment relations, and
- The ability to analyse proposals against the test of equity of outcomes relevant to the employment situation
- Specific strategies required to reduce disparities in the workplace and economy for groups likely to be disadvantaged in the labour market.
Quality assurance criteria
Applicants must provide in respect of each course for which they are seeking approval:
- a statement that they have checked the list of approved ERE courses to see whether an existing course might suit their purpose
- an outcome statement which reflects the expected effect of the course on individuals participating
- a programme for the day(s)
- an indication of the standard of qualifications and/or experience and/or training of those delivering the course
- details of the resources to be provided to the participants. Applicants are required to submit all materials that will be used to teach the course(s) (eg manuals, resources or participant workbooks)
- a statement of how the provider will assess the participants' understanding of the course material
- a copy of the evaluation processes to be undertaken to ascertain whether the course has achieved its stated objectives
- a profile of the target group for the programme.
Information for ERE providers - critical success factors for ERE initiatives
The Employment Relations Education Ministerial Advisory Committee (EREMAC) commissioned evaluation research on ERE courses, and subsequently organised a two-day conference on “Evaluating Workplace Learning: Identifying Success”. These two events provided us with clear guidance on how to make courses and other education initiatives successful in order to achieve learning outcomes and build productive relationships in the workplace.
- Be clear who the course is intended for (type of organisational role, type of prior learning experience or not, etc)
- Actively encourage line manager support of participants
- Helpful to have a critical mass (ie more than one person) attending from each workplace
- Provide pre-course preparation material in order to allow the course to focus on making learning relevant to actions in the workplace
- Collect background information from participants (eg reasons for attending; challenges they might anticipate in implementing the learning; learning experience, etc) and have the facilitator/educator build on this
- Have a title for the course which clearly conveys either its content or its desired outcome
- Clearly target the course, not only to get the right people, but also to quantify the benefits to the individual and the workplace (thus encouraging line manager support)
- Consider developing the course collaboratively with a trade union or an employer group
Course or initiative delivery factors
- Ensure that the delivery mechanism (conventional course; online learning; dvd; txt; mixed methods, etc) matches the desired learning outcomes and quality standards
- Consider delivering the course jointly with a trade union or an employer group
Relevance & reality
- Use of real scenarios enhances relevance, and facilitates action planning
- Opportunities to share experiences, ideas and concerns; and activities which help participants to identify how they can use the learning when they return to work
- It is very important to plan for the learning to have impact back in the workplace, hence action planning or similar processes to really integrate practical ways to use the learning back at work, including strategies to overcome barriers
Realise the benefits of ERE
- The realisation of potential benefits to both the individual and the workplace should be followed up on at a later date – either by the ERE provider, or by the participant or by the workplace (could be set up as part of their buy-in prior to the ERE)
- Resources, time and encouragement are often needed for participants to realise on the ERE. This needs to come from line managers (see pre-course), and from workmates
- For example a letter from the education provider to the relevant employer and/or union official to say that the person has taken part in the educational initiative and to suggest activities to capitalise on their learning in the workplace
Opportunities to apply learning
- Immediate workplace opportunities to use and share what has been learnt are important
- Expectation or incentive to apply the learning is also helpful