Now Labour wants to regulate working hours

November 4th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Darien Fenton announced:

It’s time to consider implementing working-hours regulation in New Zealand to ensure all workers have sustainable incomes and are able to meet their family commitments, says Darien Fenton, ’s Associate issues spokesperson.

“I am proposing a new bill, the Employment Relations (Hours and Wages Protection) Amendment Bill (attached) to help provide more certainty for workers. The Bill would require the actual hours a person is expected to work to carry out their duties to be specifically written into employment agreements, whether individual or collective.

This would basically abolish casual employment contracts, and also shows a total lack of understanding how difficult it can be to set hours in advance. Sure it is easy in a 9 to 5 office. But what if you are an employer where the number of hours of work you need done is totally dependent on how much work you have from clients?

Will the next step be to set a maximum 35 hour working week as in France?

This sort of bill could only be written by someone who has never worked in the private sector. Labour regards flexibility as an evil bad thing. But it isn’t.

UPDATE: Some clarification from Labour:

The ERA already requires an indication of hours of work to be included in individual contracts. It is not required for CEAs and the bill changes that. You are misleading your readers by saying casual contracts would not be allowed. The bill is designed to ensure such agreements are recorded in writing. 

I still think it is a solution looking for a problem. I think better to rely on good faith than what can be inflexible legislative provisions – the same goes for tea breaks. They worked fine for 100 years without legislative backing up until a few years ago when they were suddenly deemed necessary.

Incidentally I’m informed Darien has worked in the private sector and been a small business owner.

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56 Responses to “Now Labour wants to regulate working hours”

  1. martinh (1,257 comments) says:

    They obviously have little contact with the business community of late.
    Ive noticed that the herald wont publish any comments i write criticising the labour party president. She should be fair game. They definitely arent nasty or vindictive comments i write, im just questioning her management. Perhaps the Herald has close ties there

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  2. Dennis Horne (2,388 comments) says:

    It’s like trying to get people to be good drivers by enforcing arbitrary speed limits. What everybody wants is good employers, not arbitrary laws.

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  3. Manolo (13,571 comments) says:

    The “strikingly attractive” Darien Fenton has concocted an even more attractive bill. Jeepers.

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  4. Odakyu-sen (597 comments) says:

    How about some certainty for the business owners? (They are the ones who pay the workers.)

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  5. OneTrack (3,020 comments) says:

    “How about some certainty for the business owners? (They are the ones who pay the workers.)”

    Um, I am pretty certain that Labour, and their coalition of envy, will tax and regulate many business owners out of business in New Zealand. Does that count?

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  6. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    David

    What exactly is the problem?

    If Labour have a mandate to pass such a bill – and they may have next year – then the electorate will clearly support such a bill. Would you rather Labour do what National did and promise not to raise GST only to break this promise with impunity?

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  7. MT_Tinman (3,130 comments) says:

    This will certainly prevent many small business owners (including me) from ever employing anyone.

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  8. OneTrack (3,020 comments) says:

    Labours latest salvo against hobbits?

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  9. Pete George (23,474 comments) says:

    If Labour have a mandate to pass such a bill – and they may have next year – then the electorate will clearly support such a bill.

    There’s no guarantee “the electorate will clearly support such a bill”.

    Or are you suggesting Labour would make this bill their primary election policy and seek a mandate for it that way? With Fenton being at the forefront of promoting it perhaps? That would make an interesting campaign.

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  10. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    This will certainly prevent many small business owners (including me) from ever employing anyone.

    Well, pernicious employers might think twice about employing anyone. How about Hygiene Foundation Limited who employed 5 workers and never paid 4 of them…maybe that is what the Right mean when they talk about flexibility!

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11114111

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  11. OneTrack (3,020 comments) says:

    ross69 – Thats true, just like National have the mandate for partial asset sales. Glad to hear that you agree.

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  12. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    Sorry, you lost me at “Darien Fenton announced…”

    Is Sir Peter Leitch still a dirty class traitor?

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  13. OneTrack (3,020 comments) says:

    ross69 – “Well, pernicious employers might think twice about employing anyone”

    And good employers like MT_Tinman will also think twice about taking more people on. But thats the left – one employer does something wrong and the left tar all employers with the same brush.

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  14. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    There’s no guarantee “the electorate will clearly support such a bill”.

    Pete, if the electorate don’t support such a bill, and the numbers don’t stack up in Parliament, then it’s history. But if Labour gets electoral support, then clearly it will have a mandate to pass such a bill. I presume you’d fully support a Labour government – unlike this govt – keeping its promises.

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  15. OneTrack (3,020 comments) says:

    rrm – He is an “enemy of the people” and will be first up against the wall when the revolution comes (along with all Kiwiblog commenters).

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  16. artemisia (235 comments) says:

    If this legislation succeeds, there will be an increase in self employed contractors. And a subsequent increase in IRD’s workload as they chase up lots of workers who don’t understand their ‘new’ tax obligations, including the rules around contractors who work only for one employer. Accountants will benefit, and so will employers who suddenly have a lot less paperwork.

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  17. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    one employer does something wrong and the left tar all employers with the same brush.

    Oh but if you’re a good employer you have nothing to fear…

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  18. MT_Tinman (3,130 comments) says:

    ross69 (3,033) Says:
    November 4th, 2013 at 7:37 am
    Oh but if you’re a good employer you have nothing to fear…

    Wrong again.

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  19. thePeoplesFlag (242 comments) says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  20. slightlyrighty (2,471 comments) says:

    The economic vandalism continues…

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  21. Odakyu-sen (597 comments) says:

    “Um, I am pretty certain that Labour, and their coalition of envy, will tax and regulate many business owners out of business in New Zealand. Does that count?”

    There’s nothing like a death sentence to focus the mind and prepare an escape plan…

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  22. flipper (3,979 comments) says:

    The village idiot, Ross69, has obviously never heard of freedom.

    That is – freedom to hire any applicant suitable for the job on the terms of employment (including wage rates at or above the legal minimum), or the freedom to negotiate flexible hours to suit individual employer/employee circumstances.

    This Fenton proposition is yet another example of irrelevant fuckwits like Kelly, Rossie69, and all the other union/cracdemic/professional pollie, control freaks who have never employed anyone.

    When Fenton, Kelly, and rossie69 have put their own equity up as security to operate a business that provides emloymenmt, they have a right to comment. Until then, S T F up.

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  23. Nostalgia-NZ (5,118 comments) says:

    Okay. So next the staff have to be asked what time the workshop can open. Don’t Labour realise that most businesses are flexible upon notice for staff that need to make plans for time off and so on, or that if ‘Johnny’ applying for a job in a steel yard says he doesn’t want to start work until 9am each day, can’t work Saturdays and won’t fill in for other staff when they’re sick or on leave won’t get a job but probably get told what a dumb fuck he is as he gets shown out the door. Arrangements between employers and staff regarding work are their business alone, generally with good will extended in both directions because that makes for more efficient business and continuity of employment. No body has time for this sort of crap, staff and employers are not enemies because if they are – neither the business or the jobs survive. This looks like demarcation lines in an age where such nonsense is long past.

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  24. Nostalgia-NZ (5,118 comments) says:

    ‘ross69 (3,033) Says:
    November 4th, 2013 at 7:37 am

    one employer does something wrong and the left tar all employers with the same brush.

    Oh but if you’re a good employer you have nothing to fear…’

    What are you talking about fear for you bloody wimp. You’re a gutless wonder mate.

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  25. duggledog (1,528 comments) says:

    Hey People’s Fag

    Do you know why farmers and agriculturalists in general (you know, the ones who keep this country solvent) never ever vote labour?

    It’s because the 8 / 8 / 8 thing is a joke to them, or at best a dream. They often work 5.30 to 8 pm, weekends included in all weathers.

    People like you try to put forward this idea of ‘the common working man’ being some kind of battling hero, like a wharfie or whatever, when actually they get a pretty soft run, what with 8 hour days, paid annual leave, sick days, stats etc etc. All up the ‘working man’ gets about six weeks off a year.

    Yer soft. Parnell your hero was a pussy!

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  26. JC (948 comments) says:

    So the way I’d get around this would be to casualise my affected staff, sign them for a max of 5 hours and employ more people on a max of 5 hours.

    JC

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  27. wreck1080 (3,881 comments) says:

    Ohhh, there goes ports of tauranga……. too bad, they were doing quite well with their flexible working hours. ie, you work when the ship arrives.

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  28. stigie (1,101 comments) says:

    Ross 69 says….
    Pete, if the electorate don’t support such a bill, and the numbers don’t stack up in Parliament, then it’s history. But if Labour gets electoral support, then clearly it will have a mandate to pass such a bill. I presume you’d fully support a Labour government – unlike this govt – keeping its promises.

    So if Liarbour get about 35%, its called a mandate is it ? Fucking hypocrite !!

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  29. Pete George (23,474 comments) says:

    But if Labour gets electoral support, then clearly it will have a mandate to pass such a bill.

    No, that would be far from clear unless they make it one of their main campaign policies. A party cannot claim a mandate for every minor policy.

    And they would still have to get a Parliamentary majority. Greens and Mana may be out of touch enough with the real business world to back it. But would Winston Peters support it? Maori Party?

    And that still doesn’t guarantee ” the electorate will clearly support such a bill”, far from it.

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  30. peterwn (3,242 comments) says:

    artemisia – while it could encourage firms to use self employed contractors, Labour is most likely to amend employment legislation so there is far more scope for these contractors to claim they are ‘employees’. This is what the Hobbit Haters want.

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  31. chris (644 comments) says:

    The problem with this bill, as with so many of Labour’s proposals, is that while it has good intentions they fail to understand the real world and the repercussions it would have. Not all jobs are as simple as work X number of hours per week.

    As an example, my parents had a fabric importing business (they recently sold it and are now retired at 70+). Shipments arrive every few weeks and need to get out the door. They employed a number of part time staff who would work when the shipments came in, but there wasn’t any work in-between times.

    If they were forced to guarantee/pay X number of hours per week, every week, their business simply would not have been viable and none of these people would have been jobs, or prices would have to increase at least threefold. (They all enjoyed working there BTW.)

    Now you’ll get the inevitable snide comments from the Yoza/Peoplesflag/ross69/Samuel Smith that maybe they shouldn’t have been in business then, but it was the nature of the business, it worked for them, it worked for their employees and they were providing people with jobs and wages.

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  32. itstricky (1,797 comments) says:

    But thats the left – one employer does something wrong and the left tar all employers with the same brush.

    Start an argument against stereotyping with a stereotype. Brilliant! That is a new technique to try. I’ll save that one for later.

    Meanwhile – big deal. Is this not just stipulating in a contract? Bob min. 1 hour max. 5 hours per day – can you work three today? As opposed to having nothing in your contract and being abused for it.

    And it is a minor proposal. Probably just a feeler.

    What is that noise? Is it the sound of David whipping up a hysteria prior to election year? I mean the past three articles have all been Lavour slag offs. Careful you don’t mention the name of the devil too many times David…

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  33. Sonny Blount (1,780 comments) says:

    itstricky (617) Says:
    November 4th, 2013 at 8:33 am

    What is that noise? Is it the sound of David whipping up a hysteria prior to election year? I mean the past three articles have all been Lavour slag offs. Careful you don’t mention the name of the devil too many times David…

    Is this seriously your response to the criticism…

    So, so gutless and weak. Do you write for The Standard?

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  34. Nigel Kearney (979 comments) says:

    I wish this ‘mandate’ nonsense would go away. Beating a party led by Phil Goff doesn’t give National a mandate for anything except not being Phil Goff. But they also cannot resolve every issue by doing what the majority want because people’s opinions are inconsistent.

    The best approach is that each side proposes a costed set of policies and the voters choose which they prefer. Then the winning party implements that. Unfortunately MMP doesn’t allow this. So we are left with the situation where the government is pretty much entitled to do as they please and is judged on their overall record. This is inferior but workable.

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  35. dubya (229 comments) says:

    “Parnell greeted ships coming in to Port Nicholson, and told all new migrants not to work more than eight hours a day. In a worker’s meeting at October 1840, it was agreed that people should only work 8 hours a day, which must be between 8am and 5pm. Anyone accepting less favourable working conditions were to be thrown into the harbour.”

    Nowadays, they just piss on his BBQ and hide the staff room sky decoder.

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  36. tas (620 comments) says:

    Labour seems to be stuck in 1910. They believe that everyone works in a highly structured job with prescribed hours. While that may be representative of many union members, our economy is very diverse. In many jobs productivity is not measured in number of hours worked, it’s measured by deliverables. Sometimes, when there is a deadline it’s entirely appropriate (and expected) for me and my colleagues to be working until 4am on a Saturday night. That’s just the nature of the job.

    Labour want to legislate their limited understanding of the world into reality.

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  37. wreck1080 (3,881 comments) says:

    Labour are swinging to the hard left. I guess, they tried center left and it hasn’t worked

    Although, I think Labours problem is the lack of quality people , not political positioning. I guess putting gender/gay quotas in place will not help either.

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  38. wf (426 comments) says:

    I thought that the idea was for people to tailor their family commitments to income, but when I think about it I realize that it’s more common now for people to use the amount of credit available.
    Their wages don’t seem to have much to do with it.

    I wonder how things like staff working extra hours, or double shifts, if someone doesn’t show up, would be legislated for. In a nursing home, for instance.

    Although it’s a nice idea, I’m with the employers on this one.

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  39. Longknives (4,690 comments) says:

    France seems to be the Socialist template that the Labour/Green Party aspire to…

    Not good. Not good at all…

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  40. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    So if Liarbour get about 35%, its called a mandate is it ? Fucking hypocrite !!

    Goodness, you have a shocking memory. National win government with support from about a third of eligible voters and you couldn’t be happier than a pig in shit. By your own logic, Labour might form a govt with 10% and it would still be a mandate. So, would you like to reconsider your position?

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  41. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    Obviously a dig at Macca’s etc in the ongoing pursual of the fast food industry aong other things

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  42. chris (644 comments) says:

    So if Liarbour get about 35%, its called a mandate is it ? Fucking hypocrite !!

    Goodness, you have a shocking memory. National win government with support from about a third of eligible voters and you couldn’t be happier than a pig in shit. By your own logic, Labour might form a govt with 10% and it would still be a mandate. So, would you like to reconsider your position?

    You always resort to the “eligible voters” argument. In reality, if they don’t vote, they simply don’t count. No doubt if and when the Labour/Greens get 50% plus of the vote you’ll be trumpeting how they have a mandate and yet under your very own logic they don’t, because it’s only something like 1/3 of eligible voters.

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  43. dime (9,849 comments) says:

    Fenton – haven’t they dropped her so far down the list that she wont be around next term?

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  44. chris (644 comments) says:

    I’ll guess they’ll have to keep her high enough now for the quota ;)

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  45. flipper (3,979 comments) says:

    AN APPEAL TO REASON…….

    Ok, Rossie69,
    and
    thepeoplesflag….

    To help most every other person here understand, and value your contributions, could you each (or jointly if you are one and the same), provide the following information (May we anticipate the truth?):

    1. Year of birth
    2. marital status
    3. Education level – School Certificate/UE/Bursary/NCEA BS/Tert Ed
    4. Employment skills
    5. Employment – current employed ort unemployed?
    6. Category of employer (if applicable) – Government quango, academia, loc govt, self employed, employee in p/sector?
    7. Annual gross income
    8. Number of dependents
    9. Own home or rent?
    10. Vote in 2011?
    11. Vote in 2014?
    12. For which party/candidate?

    All that, if answered accurately, may help your case.
    Or,
    It may prove that you what you appear to be – S T U P I D.

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  46. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    flipper – they’re not stupid, they’re trolls.

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  47. enjiner (17 comments) says:

    To everyone who thought that this might be a good idea: take my own job as an example. I work in client support for the Health IT industry. I work 40 hours a week – plus every couple of months I’m on call for a week. On call means I work as long as need to resolve After Hours issues. Some weeks there are no issues at all, on my worst week I worked for about 20 hours in one weekend.

    This bill would make on call illegal – or at least limit it to a certain number of hours. On the weekend I mentioned, the national NZ Breast Screening systems would have been inoperative come Monday morning, because “Oh, sorry, I’ve worked my maximum. Too bad!” Not to mention a number of overseas hospitals who also had critical issues.

    This bill would result in qualitatively worse health outcomes, and that is just one example. This is the epitome of ‘not thought through’.

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  48. dime (9,849 comments) says:

    This would be great for aviation lol

    No more being on reserve.. I suspect a lot of jobs moving to Australia.

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  49. greenjacket (459 comments) says:

    Two-thirds of NZ exports come from two sectors – dairy and meat. Both these sectors are extremely seasonal – supply of product depends entirely on the varagies of the weather. Demand from global markets is also extremely variable (have a look at GlobalDairyTrade to see how global demand and prices move about on a fortnightly basis), so production has to be very flexible to match demand. There is simply no way that farmers and dairy/meat factories can provide guaranteed hours, because the weather and global markets are so unpredictable.

    What this shows is how out of touch the Labour Party is from the wealth-creating parts of the NZ economy.

    Of course, the people who would suffer from bringing in inflexible hours will be the workers themselves, as overtime will go.

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  50. BeeJay (71 comments) says:

    Have any of these tossers ever worked in a real job! This sort of comment from this Labour idiot is just going to put off very single small business owner who make honest attempts to employ people, even if it can only be for part time or casual work! Do they think that we deliberately create hours of work just to piss our staff off! Our business is in an industry that really fluctuates with the economy, and the weather, if we had to specify hours of work we will employ half the staff that we do now! If they think that the policy that is being proposed by this Fenton drongo will help them become Government, they are more out of touch than I thought. It seems to me that the more of the sort of policy that they are throwing around at the moment shows how out of touch they really are with Kiwis and our businesses!

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  51. Bad__Cat (140 comments) says:

    Reminds me of an old joke book. It had a picture of Bill Rowling in parliament saying:

    “What we propose, Mr Speaker, is that everything that is not illegal, will be made compulsory!”

    Labour, bringing you the Nanny State.

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  52. Bad__Cat (140 comments) says:

    No worries. Next time there’s a storm, all of us road, communications, water, waste water, stormwater and power utility staff and contractors will be knocking off at 4:00 PM.
    People can’t get home? Blame Labour.
    No power? Blame Labour
    No water? Not our problem, blame Labour.
    Shit pouring down the street and into your house? See your Labour MP.

    Another bright idea from the socialist morons.

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  53. itstricky (1,797 comments) says:

    Is this seriously your response to the criticism…So, so gutless and weak.

    You seem to have me confused for a Labour MP.

    And, in fact, errr, no. I said “storm in a teacup”. DPF is stirring the storm is inconsequential.

    You seem to have no response to “storm in a teacup” yourself. I can see how you happen to miss reading that when you just quickly want to get a witty put-down onto paper. Otherwise, if you are an employment lawyer, have read the entire proposed bill and can tell me, for Acts (1), (2), (3) Sections (4),(5),(6), Paragraphs (7),(8),(9), Subsection X that the end of the world is nigh, please be my welcome guest.

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  54. big bruv (13,718 comments) says:

    This is the same Fenton who was a junkie in her younger days.

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  55. Anthony (794 comments) says:

    I know a Kiwi who worked in France in an office job for a few years. Because he worked 40 hours a week rather than the mandatory 35 his employer had to give him an extra 6 weeks holiday a year on top of the 6 he was already entitled to! He said there was no way he could ever manage to take his 12 weeks holiday a year! Not sure if he got paid out all the holiday pay when he left! He said the cost of living was so high in Paris relative to wages he never saved any money.

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  56. Anthony (794 comments) says:

    Will Labour now start applying these rules to its own parliamentary staff? Can’t have them working more than 7:35 a day. Can you imagine it, “No David, that media release in response to that crisis that just happened will have to wait until tomorrow – it’s 4:35 and I’m not allowed to stay in the office a minute longer!”

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