Holidays Act task force welcomed

Iain Lees-Galloway
Iain Lees-Galloway
The Government has established another task force, this time to review the Holidays Act.

More than 100 working parties or task forces have been created or appointed since the Government took office last year.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the tripartite task force to review and recommend changes to the Holidays Act 2003 brought together business, workers and Government representatives.

The Holidays Act was enshrined in law to provide for minimum entitlements to annual holidays, public holidays, sick and bereavement leave, and protect work-life balance for workers.

Virginia Nicholls
Virginia Nicholls
However, there had been enormous change in the labour market in the past 14 years and it was clear a fresh pair of eyes should review the Act to ensure it was fit for modern workplaces and new working arrangements, he said.

The task force was due to report back by mid-2019.

Otago-Southland Employers Association chief executive Virginia Nicholls was very supportive of the review.

''The Act, as it stands, is complicated, which makes it difficult to work out the correct holiday pay.''

The new Act needed to reflect the changing workplace, which was not always 9-to-5, Monday to Friday.

There were many combinations of hours and days worked. Payroll systems needed to be aligned with the new Act, she said.

The Holidays Act required holiday pay to be calculated on the basis of: ordinary weekly earnings; or the average of the past four weeks pay; or the 52-week average of gross annual earnings.

''Our members want to do the right thing, but the Act in its current format makes it complex and onerous,'' Mrs Nicholls said.

Council of Trade Unions president Richard Wagstaff said the CTU had known for a long time people were not able to access their entitlements under the current law. There were major issues with most payroll system compliance.

An easily-implemented law was needed so everyone clearly understood what they were entitled to.

''It adds up every day the problem is not sorted and, over time, working people are losing millions of dollars they will potentially never be paid.

''Cases will still be worked through by unions while the review is in place to deliver debts owed by employers back to working people.''

A review which included practical tests and robust representation of those owed money under the Act was the best long-run solution, he said.

Payroll services company MYOB Businesses said businesses would welcome changes to make the law easier to administer.

''Businesses have been tearing their hair out trying to comply with the Holidays Act,'' MYOB general manager Carolyn Luey said.

''There have been several high-profile examples of both big and small employers being caught out by the Act's complexity. Business owners will be looking for changes that make it easier to determine exactly what an employee is owed.''

Health Minister David Clark yesterday announced a wide-ranging review of New Zealand's health and disability services. The review would be led by Heather Simpson, the chief of staff of former Prime Minister Helen Clark.


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