Woodhouse on zero hour contracts

has announced:

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced a package of measures to prevent unfair employment practices such as ‘zero-hour contracts’.

“New Zealand has a well-functioning labour market in general and our employment relations framework aims to strike the right balance between flexibility and certainty,” says Mr Woodhouse.

“However there are some practices that I believe are unnecessary and unacceptable for modern working arrangements.

“For example, zero-hour contracts refers to employment arrangements, including permanent, where the employer does not guarantee any hours of work, yet requires employees to be available.  This is unfair and makes it difficult for employees to plan their financial and personal lives.”

It is vital that it is only the double standard situation which is covered, not all contracts with no guaranteed hours.If like some on the left you say no contracts at all should have no minimum hours, then you are abolishing every casual job in New Zealand.

As I have consistently said, I don’t think it is fair to require employees to be available for work, when the employer won’t guarantee any set hours.

The proposed changes will prohibit unfair practices including:

  • employers not committing any hours of work, but expecting employees to be available when required

  • employers cancelling a shift without providing reasonable notice or compensation to the employee

  • employers putting unreasonable restrictions on secondary employment of employees

  • employers making unreasonable deductions from employees’ wages.

These seem reasonable to me. I’m not sure there is a wide-spread problem in any of these areas – but there have been some cases where employers have acted badly – such as docking wages of petrol station attendants if someone drives off without paying. This is probably illegal under current law, but the bill being introduced will make it beyond doubt.

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