Employment case makes case for clarification around work definitions

It’s time the Government ended the confusion around casual employment agreements, Labour’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says.

“Bay of Plenty District Health Board has been ordered to pay $7,500 to an employee who was inappropriately employed on a casual agreement. The determination of the Employment Relations Authority makes it clear that Wendy Rahiri was in fact a permanent part-time employee. 

“There will be thousands of people across New Zealand in the same position as Wendy Rahiri. That’s not because employers are deliberately trying to take advantage of their employees. It’s because casual work is not defined in the Employment Relations Act and there is widespread misunderstanding about how and when casual agreements should be used.

“Labour is trying to rectify this by seeking to include definitions of casual and permanent employment agreements in the Employment Standards Legislation Bill, currently before select committee. If the committee doesn’t make the changes, we will propose amendments when the bill returns to Parliament.

“Several employers told the select committee that clear definitions of permanent, casual and fixed-term agreements would not only help them avoid costly mistakes, it would eliminate the need for zero-hour contracts. Far from removing zero-hour contracts from the law, as the Government promised, the Employment Standards Legislation Bill enshrines them in law and needs to be significantly amended if it is to make good on the promises that were made.

“Employment law should be easy to understand and fair to employers and employees alike. We urge the Government to support our approach to help stop costly mistakes and unfair employment practices,” Iain Lees-Galloway says.


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