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Holidays Act changes

Tue, 31 Aug 2004

Holidays Act changes

Holidays Act changes are proposed following a working group report

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Labour Minister Paul Swain today announced proposed changes to the Holidays Act following a working group report.

"Difficulties arose earlier in the year with the interpretation of some of the provisions of the Holidays Act. In July, I set up a working group of private and public sector employers and unions to look at these issues."

This working group has now reported back and the Government is introducing amendments to address the issues raised. The key changes relate to ensuring that penal rates introduced for working on public holidays, are not to be applied on top of existing penal rates. In addition, employees who call in sick on public holidays are not eligible for public holiday rates.

"The Government's core policies have not changed. What we wanted to do was to ensure employees are guaranteed an additional payment for working on a public holiday. Most New Zealanders think this is fair. We also wanted to introduce 4 weeks annual leave from 2007, to bring us into line with our key trading partners, notably Australia. Australia has had 4 weeks annual leave for about 30 years."

Employers have also raised concerns that the enhanced sick leave provisions have led to increases in leave taking. The Government has introduced an amendment to provide employers with an option to seek a medical certificate if they have reason to believe that the sick leave is not genuine. However, if they wish to take this option, then they will be required to meet the cost of the medical examination.

The key changes are:No penal rates for public holidays on top of existing penal rates No public holiday rates if an employee does not work that dayEmployers may request a medical certificate before 3 days if they have reasonable cause to suspect the sick leave is not genuine and the employer pays for the medical certificateThe time limit for solving issues relating to composite pay rates has been extended.

A select committee will now consider these amendments and report back to Parliament in time for changes to be passed by Labour Weekend.

ENDS

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