Now Labour wants to regulate working hours

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, Labour’s Associate labour 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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