We’ve remained committed to that legacy throughout our time in Government too, rolling out practical support to help families, like creating the Winter Energy Payment and Best Start, increasing the Family Tax credit, increasing main benefits, removing punitive sanctions that impact children, increasing paid parental leave and introducing free lunches in schools. Investing in people is also a key part of our plan to recover from COVID-19.
If re-elected to government this October, Labour will continue to put people at the heart of everything we do. That includes a number of new measures to raise incomes, grow jobs, and help people into study and training.
Increasing minimum sick leave
Managing COVID-19 has shown, more than ever, how important it is for workers to be able to stay home if they're sick. That's why we are expanding sick leave entitlements from five days to ten days a year.
The current legal minimum of five days of sick leave often means people don’t stay home when they're sick, and can mean some people cannot financially afford to take sick leave. If re-elected, we’ll seek to pass legislation to increase the minimum sick leave entitlement within the first 100 days, making our workplaces healthier and safer.
Fair Pay Agreements
New Zealand lacks sector wide bargaining in our labour market, which can allow employers to undercut each other by offering lower wages. This creates an incentive to underpay staff and punishes good employers who pay fair wages.
We’ll make it easier for workers to receive fair wages and conditions, and avoid the 'race to the bottom' that occurs within competitive industries by implementing Fair Pay Agreements.
Fair Pay Agreements set out minimum terms and conditions for workers across an industry or occupation, and are set by employers and unions.
We want a productive and highly skilled workforce where everyone shares in the benefits of economic growth. Fair Pay Agreements, as part of our plan to keep New Zealand moving, will help achieve this.
Lifting wages and ensuring people are paid fairly
COVID-19 has shone a light on the many workers who do important work in our community but who are not well or fairly paid for it. We can do a lot better at lifting wages and easing financial stress for hard-working New Zealanders.
By increasing wages for low income workers and ensuring pay equity for women, we can enable all New Zealanders to share in the benefits of our economic plan as we recover and rebuild.
Since we’ve been in Government, we’ve raised the minimum wage every year, from $15.75 when we first came in to $18.90 today.
We’ve announced that we will continue to increase the minimum wage, raising it to $20 an hour in 2021.
We’ve also announced that we will make it easier for women to gain pay equity in their organisation or across their industry, by ensuring there are better records of pay equity across New Zealand, including by ethnicity and age as well as gender.
Improving working conditions
Labour is committed to improving conditions so everyone can work in a safe and fair environment.
One way we are doing this is by raising the minimum age at which workers are allowed to perform hazardous work.
Last year 108 people died at work - and ten of them were under the age of 20. Raising the age for entry into hazardous work will help protect more of our young people from dangerous work environments. We also want to ensure all workers have the right to elect health and safety representatives.
When the former National Government reformed health and safety legislation, they removed the right for workers in small businesses to elect their own health and safety representatives. Health and safety representatives are a vital part of ensuring workplaces are safe. Labour believes all workers should be entitled to a health and safety representative, and we will reinstate this right.
We will also strengthen and simplify the Holidays Act, make sure sick leave can be taken when needed, and put in place more protections for vulnerable workers.
Reinstating the Training Incentive Allowance
Firstly, a re-elected Labour Government will continue to back those looking to gain qualifications by reinstating the Training Incentive Allowance (TIA) to assist with the costs of getting a degree level tertiary qualification. This will help more Kiwis and their families to get ahead.
TIA is targeted at sole parents, disabled people and their carers, and provides extra support towards the cost of study. This support is critical to ensuring that our people continue to develop the skills needed for New Zealand’s economic recovery and rebuild. Research shows those who gain higher level qualifications are more likely to get a job, build a career and earn more. It is exactly the sort of investment we need to be making to support people back into sustainable work.
Access to support for higher level courses under the TIA was cut by a National government - Labour is putting this vital ladder of support back in place. In 2018, under the existing settings, around 900 people accessed the TIA. Reinstating access to the TIA for degree level study is estimated to increase uptake to over 6,000 in the first year, increasing to 15,000 in later years.
Increasing the abatement threshold
A second term Labour Government will also lift the abatement threshold so people working while on a benefit can keep more of what they earn. This will increase the financial incentive to stay in or take up part-time work, which can be a really important step toward finding full-time work.
This policy will help more Kiwi families get by, with up to 30,000 New Zealanders being better off as they can hold on to more of what they earn - for some this could be up to $70 more each week.
Fairer wages for contracted public service workers
As part of our economic plan, Labour will progressively extend Living Wage guarantees to workers who are employed by public service contractors – starting with our cleaners, caterers, and security guards. This could mean almost an extra $100 a week for a worker who is currently on minimum wage.
Paying workers who are employed by public service contractors a Living Wage will boost their household incomes and ease the cost of living for them and their families. This money will be spent back in the community, meaning it will benefit the wider economy at the same time.
Together, these changes will mean better long-term outcomes for more Kiwi families by reducing barriers for training, providing more opportunities for employment, and putting more money in people’s pockets.
Investing in people is a core part of our plan for economic recovery from COVID-19.
Want to know more about Labour’s policies? Head here to find all the information you need to cast your vote on 17 October, and back us on Election Day with two ticks for Labour.
Stay in-the-know with all of Labour’s policies and announcements in the lead up to Election Day by signing up to our mailing list here, and make sure to like and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.