Lisa Beech from Caritas writes in the Herald:
Parliament will this week debate whether working children aged 16 or younger should be regarded as employees rather than contractors, when Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene’s private member’s bill is introduced on Wednesday.
The bill is here. It states:
The purpose of this Act is to amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 to provide that all persons aged 16 and under who perform labour for remuneration in New Zealand are to be regarded as employees, with all the rights that such status confers.
Oh good god. That means babysitters and paper boys would now become employees. Even Scouts doing bob a job might end up as employees.
The minimum wage act would probably then apply, so 10 year olds can’t be hired for less than $10 an hour!
Nice to see Labour focused on the big issues such as giving 16 year olds the vote and 10 year olds the right to go to the Employment Relations Authority!
Of concern to us was that many of the children working as contractors were in turn sub-contracting younger siblings to do their work – over half of those children in our study involved younger brothers and sisters in their work.
While some worked under parental supervision, others did not. One 12-year-old had sole supervision of his 8-year-old brother and 6-year-old sister while undertaking delivery work on the road.
By contrast, the directly employed children were expected to do their rounds themselves, or had sick leave cover provided from the wider pool of employed children.
This must be stopped. You can’t have younger siblings helping their older siblings out.
We learned subsequently that the year after the release of our 2007 Delivering the Goods report, a 6-year-old girl died on the roads while accompanying her 12-year-old brother on his delivery round.
Very sad, but kids die in accidents. Some fall down drains. Others get hit by cars. Each loss is a tragedy. But that doesn’t mean turning kids from contractors into employees will mean no such accidents happen. And note in this case the six year old was not substituting for her brother – she was accompanying him. This is what kids do – like to hang around with their siblings and help them (or annoy them).