Employment relations education (ERE) is aimed at improving relationships between unions, employees and employers, and increasing understanding of employment relations, especially the duty of good faith.
ERE leave can only be used for approved courses. ERE courses are approved by the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety.
Calculating ERE leave entitlement for an employer
Unions calculate the total ERE leave entitlement for the union members employed by an employer as at the 30th day before the specified date each year. The specified date is 1 March unless the employer and the union agree to another date.
The same entitlement continues to apply throughout the leave year (ie for the next 12 months) even if the number of eligible employees changes.
Unions must use the method in the Employment Relations Act 2000 to calculate the total ERE leave entitlement per employer, unless another method is specified in a relevant collective employment agreement.
The calculation is based on full-time equivalent eligible employees. For the purposes of the calculation, each eligible employee who normally works 30 or more hours per week is counted as one full-time equivalent, and each eligible employee who works less than 30 hours a week is counted as a half.
The formula for calculating the entitlement for a particular group of eligible employees is as follows:
|Number of full-time equivalent eligible employees as at the 30th day before the specified date in 2001 and subsequent years||Maximum number of days of employment relations education leave the union is entitled to allocate
|51-280||1 day for every 8 full-time equivalent employees or part of that number|
|281 or more||35 days plus 5 days for every 100 full-time equivalent employees or part of that number that exceeds 280|
Notifying employers of ERE leave allocation
The union must give the employer notice, within a month of the specified date, stating:
- the maximum number of days of ERE leave available to the group of eligible employees, and
- how the calculation was done.
The union can’t allocate leave until they have given the employer the notice and if they don’t comply with the above requirements, they forfeit one-twelfth of the leave for each complete month that they don’t comply.
Allocating and notifying employees of entitlement
The union decides which of the union members can take ERE leave. It allocates leave by notifying these employees in writing of:
- how many days’ leave they can take
- that they must take the ERE leave by the end of the ERE year it is allocated in
- that they must tell their employer as soon as possible, and no later than 14 days before the start of ERE leave, of the dates that they propose to take leave and what course they will be doing during the leave
- that the employer can refuse to grant leave for particular days if it can be reasonably shown that leave on those days will unreasonably disrupt the employer's business
- that ERE leave is paid by the employer at either their relevant daily pay or average daily pay.
The union also has to send a copy of this notification to the employer.
If the union is a party to a collective agreement with two or more employers, the union can allocate ERE leave calculated for one employer to another employer but only if both employers agree (they can agree but with conditions).
Employee notifying employer of taking ERE leave
An employee who has been allocated ERE leave and wants to attend an approved ERE course must tell their employer as soon as possible, and no later than 14 days before the start of the proposed ERE leave:
- the dates that they propose to take leave and
- what course they will be doing during the leave.
The 14 days cannot include any of the days from 25 December to 5 January in the following year.
The employer can refuse to grant ERE leave for particular days if it can be reasonably shown that leave on those days will unreasonably disrupt the employer's business.