Air NZ pay not illegal

The Herald have reported that the Labour Department says Air NZ is not breaking the law by paying Shanghai based staff less than the on international flights.

The legal minimum wage is $12 an hour but the Labour department report said it was not applicable to Air NZ as “it would appear Chinese employment law applied to the agreement between and the Chinese Air crew”.

But not quite that clear:

However, in a statement last night the Department of Labour corrected “an assertion” in a media release from Air New Zealand on the issue.

The statement was in response to a release from the airline that stated that the department had found that Chinese law applied to the agreement between Air New Zealand and the Chinese cabin crew.

“What we said in our briefing to Labour Minister Trevor Mallard was that “it would appear that Chinese employment law applied”, workplace deputy secretary Andrew Annakin said.

“This is an important point of difference, as the department cannot definitively determine what employment law applies in a particular factual situation, particularly outside New Zealand.”

It would be a very interesting test case if taken to court. If the staff worked in , there would be no doubt Chinese law applied. But when on an international flight, the law of the air generally tends to point to the law of the country the aircraft is registered in. However I know that flights into the US also have US Federal Law apply, so definitely not clear cut.

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