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New legislation to benefit Territorials

New legislation to benefit Territorials

Minister of Defence Mark Burton is welcoming legislation enacted today to protect the employment of NZDF Territorial Force personnel.

“Until today, when our Territorials were deployed on operations overseas, their jobs could be put at risk. Previous legislation had not kept pace with modern employment law and did not offer a workable way to protect the livelihoods of these valuable personnel.

“The passing of the Volunteer Employment Protection Amendment Bill (VEPA) today will significantly expand the scope of protection available to our Territorials when they volunteer for service.

“VEPA aligns employment practices for our Territorials with the conditions established under Paid Parental Leave, including employer compensation for fixed periods of deployment. This provides a practical way for our volunteers to serve in such missions as East Timor without risk to their civilian employment.

“Now, when these service men and women are deployed overseas, they have the security of knowing there is a job waiting for them when they return home,” said Mark Burton.

Originally sponsored by Dr Wayne Mapp as a Private Members Bill in 2000, VEPA has since undergone significant work to expand its scope. Mark Burton stressed that VEPA’s enactment today is an excellent example of cross-party collaboration and cooperation.

“I would like to extend my thanks to all members, past and present, of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee with whom I have worked to progress this Bill. It has been gratifying to see the dedication on all sides to improving support for volunteers and their employers.

“The deployment to East Timor proved the significant worth of our Territorial Forces, and we must ensure that they can continue to contribute effectively to the Defence Force. By providing job certainty in a situation of national interest, service in the Territorials will volunteers and their employers alike will be more confident about Territorial service.

“This government has made it clear from the beginning that we are committed to a modern, sustainable, well-equipped Defence Force. We have already implemented a number of improvements for our Territorial Force, including bringing their pay in line with that of our Regular Force personnel.

“Our support and cooperative work on VEPA is yet another example of that commitment, and I am proud to be a part of it,” said Mark Burton.

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