Is zero hours proposal workable?

customer, pay, POS, card, checkoutBusinessNZ says the government’s proposals for zero hours contracts look workable.

The government will include in forthcoming legislation the requirement that all employment contracts must include agreed hours.

The legislation will also ban practices such as making unreasonable wage deductions and restricting secondary employment.

BusinessNZ CEO, Phil O’Reilly, said zero hours contracts are not used in the vast majority of workplaces and problems with their use are not widespread.

“Zero hours contracts and other forms of casual contracts that are agreed between the employer and employee can be very useful for both parties, O’ Reilly pointed out.

“In a few situations they have been controversial, and the government is seeking to provide some protection in legislation.

“We have yet to see what form that protection might take, and business would reserve the right to comment on the draft legislation.

“Any legislation that eventuates should be even-handed in helping employees manage their employment conditions while still preserving business flexibility.”

According to Unite Union national director, Mike Treen, a guaranteed minimum number of hours in a contract is not enough to end the abuses possible under a zero hour contract regime.

“There is not much difference if someone is on a contract where the work week can fluctuate from eight to 40 or more hours a week and a contract where the fluctuation is zero to 40,” said Treen.

“We have exactly this situation at the SkyCity casino. It still allows employers to play favourites with some staff and use cuts in hours to punish others without proper process.

“Workers need a guaranteed minimum to start and the ability to build up their hours over time. Companies should not be allowed to hire additional staff until all available hours are offered to existing staff. That is what we negotiated with the fast food companies and this principle should be included in law.”

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