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Time to regulate working hours?

Media Statement
Thursday 6 September 2007

Time to regulate working hours?

Labour MP Darien Fenton has today called for a national discussion on whether working hours should be limited through regulation.

Speaking in the second reading of the Flexible Working Hours Amendment Bill last night, Darien Fenton said that New Zealand workers are expected to work long hours, including week-nights and weekends and to put the firm before their family.

“Despite all the talk about work life balance and some progress at the big end of town, there’s not a lot happening for workers lower down the economic chain. And that’s having a real impact on our families. If Mum and Dad are both working long shifts, what’s happening to the kids?” says Ms Fenton.

Darien Fenton says the core problem is the lack of working time regulations in New Zealand. The 8 hour day, 40 hour week introduced by the first Labour Government as standard conditions for most workers no longer exists, and while flexible working has some benefits, the flexiblilty has been going all one way.

“Employers have continued to extend working / opening / operating hours, while at the same time, work has become less secure in many sectors through the use of casual workers, zero hours contracts, temporary and contract workers.”

“The wave of workplace reforms we saw in the 1990’s meant working hours were cranked up without any regard to the costs to families and society. The effects are obvious” says Darien Fenton.

Ms Fenton says that other countries regulate working hours and that hasn’t been the end of the world. “In fact, it is well known that French workers, with their 35 hour week, are among the most productive in the world.”

“Isn’t this a discussion we should be having in New Zealand?”


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