MEDIA RELEASE – TWO PAGES
25 December 2001
Improved holiday rights by next Christmas?
“New Zealand workers should be enjoying more generous holiday entitlements by next Christmas if Government policies are implemented in new holidays laws planned for next year,” Council of Trade Unions president Ross Wilson said today.
“The new Act should provide minimum pay of time and a half plus a day in lieu for those who have to work on any of the 11 public holidays,” he said.
Ross Wilson said the changes should also include improved sick and bereavement leave entitlements, and possibly four weeks annual leave.
“Under the present law an employer is not required to pay more than ordinary hourly pay to an employee who is required to work on public holidays,” he said.
“Business NZ and CTU members of the recent Minister of Labour’s advisory committee agree there should be a statutory minimum of time and a half for working on a public holiday, although employers think it should be able to be reduced by agreement.”
Ross Wilson said the CTU was also asking for a separate bereavement leave entitlement to be introduced.
“This is Labour and Alliance policy. Under the CTU proposal workers would get three days bereavement leave for any family bereavement in addition to the current five days special leave,” he said.
Since 1991 the Holidays Act has provided a minimum of only five days per year to cover sick leave, domestic leave for family sickness, and any family bereavement.
While unionised workers, in particular, have good holiday entitlements by agreement with employers, other workers are reliant on the minimum rights in the Holidays Act.
“Now that the majority of unionised workers get a minimum of four weeks annual holiday the CTU has also proposed that the Holidays Act minimum be increased to four weeks for all employees,” Ross Wilson said.
Ross Wilson said that the reforms of the past decade have put a lot more work pressure on people.
“There is a need to ensure that employees are able to get balance into their lives, both for their benefit, and for the good of their families and communities,” he said.
“Workers in countries like Australia, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal get four weeks annual leave and some countries provide five or six weeks.
“Hopefully, the new Holidays Act will push the pendulum in that direction so that New Zealanders can get back to rebuilding family and community life.”