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Relevant Day Pay Issue Wider Than "Sickies"

Media release, 16 June, 2004

Relevant Day Pay Issue Wider Than "Sickies"

"Minister of Labour, Paul Swain's, blunt statement that 'time and a half for working on public holidays is not in question' and his demand for proof that workers have taken more 'sickies' since a recent law change gave them penal rates for sick leave on public holidays, shows he is out of touch with reality", said Employers & Manufacturers Association Chief Executive, Alasdair Thompson, following an EMA board meeting yesterday.

"EMA's board yesterday expressed its deep concern that the minister is showing an unwillingness to fix the new Holidays Act after telling it that he would fix it".

"Several board members whose companies are facing very substantial and unintended extra costs running into millions of dollars have asked that EMA and Business NZ seek urgent direct discussions with the minister".

"Paid 'sickies' on public holidays is only a part of the problem surrounding the 'relevant pay' clause for public holidays".

"Many firms have added extras into their pay structure like, for example, attendance allowances, which become part of a 'relevant day's pay' which they now have to get paid if they don't attend.

Other firms already pay time-and-a-half or double time for Saturday and/or Sunday work. If these days fall on a public holiday, as did ANZAC day, they have to pay between 2.25 and 3 times the ordinary rate as well as give a day off in lieu".

"For the minister to effectively respond with 'that's tough, you can lump it for all I care' after he'd acknowledged these problems shows a complete lack of good faith, itself a cornerstone of employment relations".

"The CTU's response to our concerns is to tell us to 'back off' which, of course, is ridiculous. We are the largest association in New Zealand representing employers and our phone calls from them doubled after this legislation was passed".

"EMA is seeking an urgent direct meeting with the minister and Business NZ at their earliest availability", said Mr Thompson.


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