Monday, December 10, 2007

In the ballot XXII

Another batch of Member's Bills currently in the ballot. Previous batches are indexed here:

Minimum Wage (Meal Breaks and Rest Periods) Amendment Bill (Sue Moroney): This would amend the Minimum Wage Act 1983 to provide a minimum entitlement for rest and meal breaks - two paid 10-minute rest breaks and a 30 minute meal break in each work period of more than six hours (and proportionately less for shorter work periods). It's a good idea - we used to have such provisions, but they were repealed with the passage of the Employment Contracts Act in 1991, leading to some abuses - which will have absolutel no effect on the average employer, while protecting workers from abusive employers. But I'm curious as to why it is being placed in the Minimum Wage Act rather than the Employment Relations Act.

Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Bill (Darien Fenton): This would tweak the Employment Relations Act to better deal with cases of "triangular employment" - employees employed by one employer, but working under the control or direction of another (for example, staff employed by temp or labour hire agencies). Workers in such relationships would gain the right to be covered by any collective agreement operating in the secondary employer's workplace (so temps would have to be granted the same pay and conditions as permanent staff - examples here), and would be able to bring personal grievance cases against the secondary employer. In short, it would break down the legal front used to dodge costs and insulate poor employers from the consequences of their actions.

Social Security (Benefit Review and Appeal Reform) Amendment Bill (Sue Bradford): This would scrap the existing Benefits Review Committee structure which handles primary appeals on decisions regarding benefit payments. The current system has been criticised as one-sided (all "reviewers" are employees of the Ministry of Social Development, and thus victims of its toxic internal culture), making poor-quality decisions, and failing to conform with basic principles of natural justice affirmed in the Bill of Rights Act. Under the bill, it would be replaced by a system of independent benefit reviewers required to conform to the principles of natural justice, and able to award costs if an appeal is upheld.

As usual, I'll have more bills as I acquire them.