Workplace Relations & Safety

Labour is committed to helping working New Zealanders by raising wages, protecting them while they are at work, growing jobs and investing in the economy. Good labour standards protect good employers as well as good workers by preventing a race to the bottom.

It’s time to get our economy moving again, and supporting our workers plays a key role in that.

Labour's 2020 campaign policies

  • We will implement a major support package to assist businesses in hiring at least 40,000 New Zealanders whose employment is impacted by COVID-19.
  • We will progressively extend Living Wage guarantees to contractors to the public sector – such as our cleaners, caterers, and security guards.
  • We will increase minimum sick leave entitlements from five days to ten days a year.
  • We will increase the minimum wage to $20 an hour in 2021.
  • 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.
  • We will 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.
  • We will strengthen and simplify the Holidays Act, and allow sick leave to be taken when needed.
  • We will protect vulnerable workers by legislating protections for dependent contractors and by recognising security guards as vulnerable workers to ensure their terms and conditions are protected.
  • We will raise the age for workers to be allowed to perform hazardous work, ensure all workers have the right to elect health and safety representatives, and ensure Seafarer Welfare Centres provide better services.

Find more information about our workplace relations policy here.

Labour’s plan

Labour is already rolling out our plan to support New Zealanders and their jobs. We have:

  • Supported workers quickly through the Wage Subsidy Scheme, which has now supported around 1.7 million jobs. We’ve also extended the subsidy until 1 September to provide targeted support for workers in hard-hit industries, like tourism
  • Launched the COVID income relief payment, supporting New Zealanders who lose their jobs due to the impact of COVID-19, as they find new employment or retrain. The payment provides $490 a week for people who had been working full time, and $250 a week for people who were working part time
  • Created specific programmes to protect jobs in vulnerable sectors like sports, tourism, and the arts

Labour’s achievements to date

During the COVID crisis

During the first phase of our response to COVID-19, we moved quickly to protect New Zealanders and their jobs by establishing the Wage Subsidy scheme and the essential workers leave scheme. We also invested in programmes to ensure employers and employees know their rights and obligations, and supported two new health and safety initiatives, including technical advice and leadership support, that will cut work-related harm.

Before the COVID crisis

Going into COVID-19, the Government had made significant ground in ensuring more New Zealanders were sharing the country’s economic success, and had good jobs, decent work conditions and high wages.

We rolled back many of the previous government’s changes to the Employment Relations Act, providing greater protections to workers, especially vulnerable workers, reinstating prescribed meal and rest breaks and limiting 90-day trials to businesses with fewer than 20 employees. These changes also strengthen the role of collective bargaining in the workplace to ensure fair wages and conditions.

We’ve increased the Minimum Wage, lifting it to $18.90 on 1 April 2020, increasing the pay of approximately 242,000 workers by an extra $48 per week before tax for those who work 40 hours.

We’ve updated the Equal Pay Act to address the gender pay gap, and we’ve increased Paid Parental Leave, taking New Zealand up to 26 weeks of leave for new parents, and have increased the maximum weekly payment by $20.

We made sure all employees in the core public service will receive the Living Wage, including full-time, part-time and casual employees, with 70 percent of those benefiting from the increase being women.

Since we came into Government, we’ve also:

  • Increased funding for the modernisation of WorkSafe
  • Launched a new Navigation Service offering free, independent advice and advocacy for people making ACC claims
  • Committed to keeping the retirement age at 65
  • Passed the Equal Pay Amendment Bill to address the gender pay gap