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Disabled workers benefit from law change today

30 November 2007
Media Statement

Disabled workers benefit from law change from today

Disabled workers in sheltered workshops will benefit from the Repeal of the Disabled Persons in Employment Act, which takes effect today, says Disabilities Minister Ruth Dyson.

"The repeal means that sheltered workshops will have to pay everyone they employ at least the minimum wage, unless individual workers have an exemption. It will also mean that all people who work in sheltered workshops will have access to holiday and sick leave entitlements.

"People working in sheltered workshops – about one third of those who attend sheltered workshops - will now be entitled to the conditions every other New Zealand employee enjoys."

"Some workshops and business enterprises are already paying the minimum wage of $11.25 per hour. These workers will also continue to be able to receive the Invalids Benefit if they are eligible – it will abate but their total pay will still increase."

Some sheltered workshop providers have decided to change to being community participation service providers, while some have taken commercial contracts. In same way some former sheltered workshop workers are now contractors, some have obtained part-time work in the open paid workforce and some are making use of community participation services while at the same time exploring supported employment job opportunities.

"Repealing this outdated legislation is part of a package of wider changes aimed at ensuring that the voice of disabled New Zealanders is heard and acted upon.
We have undertaken extensive consultation with disabled people and their families, and with service providers, over many years and over the wider package of reforms.”

“For 45 years, operators have been able to pay people who work for them less than the minimum wage, regardless of their ability, which is inconsistent with human rights law. Every New Zealander deserves the right to enjoy statutory holidays, annual leave, sick leave and holiday pay – which is what this law change is designed to enable,” said Ruth Dyson.

ENDS

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