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Better rights for working children on the way

Darien Fenton Media Statement
Labour List MP

6 August 2008

Better rights for working children on the way

A new members' bill to protect working children aged 15 and under has been announced by Labour MP Darien Fenton and she is calling on all parties in Parliament to support it, both before and after the election.

The Employment Relations (Protection of Young Workers) Amendment Bill provides that all workers aged 15 and under must be employed on employment agreements under the Employment Relations Act 2000 and cannot be independent or dependent contractors.

“This means that children who work will have the rights and protections of employees, including holidays and sick leave, the right to join a union, the right to negotiate in good faith and have a fair agreement and the right to personal grievance," says Ms Fenton.

“Currently, there are few restrictions on children being hired as contractors. This means they have no employment rights, they are expected to pay their own tax and ACC and this means they are open to abuse.

“This has led to the kind of exploitation highlighted recently by “Fair Go” who found that children were not only being paid appallingly low wages, but they had no other rights”, Ms Fenton said.

Late last year, CARITAS highlighted the same issue in their report “Delivering the Goods,” a major survey of children’s work in New Zealand.

CARITAS said they believed the single most important step to improve children's working experiences would be to require that their employment status is that of employees rather than contractors.

“I agree with CARITAS and so does Labour,” says Ms Fenton.

“I intend to find out the position of all parties and let the voters know over the next few months, because if we care about our children, their education and their future, we need to get this sorted.”

Darien Fenton says that the fact that there is an election coming soon has no bearing on her determination to see this issue resolved for New Zealand’s working children.

“The election might delay legislative progress on this issue for a while, but I will be actively pursuing it, both inside and outside of Parliament”.


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