Prebble's Letter from Wellington – OSH Special
Richard Prebble's Letter from Wellington
Wednesday 21, November 2001
Half-Million Dollar Fine for Stress
The government has introduced the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill which imposes harsh penalties on employers. This bill, put up by Labour Minister Margaret Wilson:
* makes stress an occupational hazard
* increases penalties on employers five-fold to a maximum of $500,000 or two years jail
* bans companies from insuring against OSH fines
* allows unions to bring prosecutions against employers
* empowers 'workplace safety representatives' to issue legally-binding hazard notices - they'll effectively become industrial vigilantes.
The ACT Party believes this bill is another example of the anti-business attitude of the Labour/Alliance coalition government.
The Bill is Draconian
We all want safe workplaces but this bill is far too draconian. It will:
* enable unions to blackmail employers by threatening to prosecute them
* encourage false claims, as courts will be able to award fines to injured workers as compensation
* enable injured workers to double-dip - first from ACC and then from the proceeds of fines.
A $500,000 fine would wipe out most New Zealand employers. A sentence of two years jail equates being a boss with being a criminal. This new law will do nothing for safety or to encourage full employment.
Major Re-think of the Legislation
We need your help to fight the bill. ACT achieved significant amendments to the Employment Relations Act and ACC legislation by encouraging hundreds of submissions to the select committee.
ACT is running a campaign against this latest bill and will use its network of small business to generate hundreds of submissions, to force a major rethink of the legislation.
Make a Submission
You can make a submission on the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill by writing to:
Clerk of the Committee
Transport and Industrial Relations Committee
Select Committee Office
To learn more about the bill, you can log on to the ACT website - http://www.act.org.nz/oshbill . The site includes:
* a copy of the bill
* a copy of the summary by the Parliamentary Library
* guidelines on how to make a submission (including a model submission).