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Mallard: Protections For Casuals And Temp Workers

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

10 September 2008 - Employment protections for temporary and casual workers are to be strengthened under proposed amendments to the Employment Relations Act introduced to parliament by Labour Minister Trevor Mallard.

"The proposed changes in the bill introduced yesterday demonstrate the Labour-led government's commitment to protecting the most vulnerable members of the workforce," Trevor Mallard said.

"Under the proposed legislative changes, employees and employers will be able to clarify their relationship using a test that has already been developed in case law by the Employment Court. This casual employee relationship will be further refined in a new code of employment practice to be developed jointly by employers, unions and the Department of Labour. The test takes into account how regular the employment is, how much autonomy the worker has and whether the worker is genuinely free to accept or reject offers of employment.

"Under the changes, the Department of Labour will develop a Code of Employment Practice for Casual and Non-Standard Employment which will make it easier for employers to understand and comply with their obligations to casual and temporary workers," Trevor Mallard said.

"An awareness-raising campaign that aims to increase workers' knowledge of their statutory rights in the workplace is also planned.

"The Act will also be amended to strengthen the rights of employees who are in a 'triangular' employment relationship. These are employees whose employer contracts their services to a third party, which effectively controls the employee's work. Employees in this situation, who belong to a union, will be entitled to terms and conditions at least as favourable as those enjoyed by unionised workers employed directly by the secondary employer under a collective agreement.

"The changes in this Bill follow on from other positive initiatives by the Labour-led government for low paid and vulnerable workers and working families, including enshrining meal and rest breaks and breast feeding breaks into law, the introduction and then extension of paid parental leave, of four weeks annual leave, and annual increases to the minimum wage," Trevor Mallard said.

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