Lizzi Whaley has been in business since 2006 and in that time she has faced operating under both National and Labour-led Governments.
The commercial interior design company boss, who runs Karangahape Rd-based Spaceworks Design Group, says the past three years running her business has meant longer hours, more compliance costs and higher wage bills.
Whaley, who employs 28 staff, says changes to employment law and other regulations that came into affect last year has cost her business up to $1000 more each month.
It has meant the business has had to hire experts and consultants to ensure all requirements are being met, when it shouldn’t need to for a relatively small-scale business.
She says the current Government hasn’t done her business any favours.
“I’m a big fan of the way John Key ran the country because I believe he ran it like a business, and I believe that is the best way to run the country to make sure that all people are catered, and that you can’t cherry-pick and try to do the best for everyone.”
Whaley says the existing Government had “done very well on the international stage” and been “very diplomatic” but had taken the wrong approach towards the Covid-19 response and its worker-first policies.
“They have cherry-picked some industries that they think they want to support more than others. Whilst we have fared pretty well through Covid, we haven’t had to make any redundancies or anything like that, what we are finding it has affected the markets that we are service which is retail and hospitality, they feel like they are really forgotten.”
Current policies such as mandatory rises to the minimum wage affected industries and businesses that could not afford them. It had meant that businesses were now less likely to hire additional staff, says Whaley.
“Businesses are going to choose not to employ and make the people that are already working for them work harder and longer, and that brings about all sorts of issues around stress and mental health and wellbeing,” she says, adding that she does not believe it is the Government’s job to create jobs.
“I believe it is the Government’s job to support small and medium-sized businesses or business in New Zealand to create jobs for New Zealanders.
She says she felt the Government was “putting money in the wrong places”: “The intention is right, the direction is entirely wrong.”
The minimum wage set to increase to $20 per hour in April next year and the proposal to double paid sick leave entitlements were examples of this, she says.
“What we’ll do is we just won’t employ more people. For example, I would have employed graduates from the universities but if now it’s going to cost me more, why would? I would much rather pay for a senior who is twice as productive for not a huge amount more. I’m not going to take the opportunity to train a graduate out of university because they are just costing so much more, I’m just going to invest my money into more qualified people because the productivity for me is going to be so much higher, which is far better for our business model long term.
Whaley says she felt the Government was taking from businesses that create jobs, or should be creating jobs, and making it tougher to remain viable.
“You would hope that your Government was out there for every New Zealander and to help them grow their business.
“I feel that in my attempts to grow my business I’m now be persecuted and it’s now more expensive for me to hire staff and I’m potentially going to be taxed more, which means it is stopping me from living a life that means I can give back to people that actually need it.”