Monday, September 14, 2020

A bill to criminalise wage theft

Wage theft is a problem in New Zealand, with a widespread practice of forcing employees to work without pay, and regular cases of underpayment and exploitation. One reason why its such a widespread problem is impunity: rather than a crime, wage theft is merely a tort, dealt with by the Employment Tribunal (at the employee's expense) rather than the police - apparently it not being theft if rich people do it. There is an obvious fix for this: make it a crime. Now lawyer Graeme Edgeler has drafted a bill for an easy fix: making the existing crime of "theft by person in special relationship" (or, as police frequently and tellingly call it, "theft as a servant") apply to case of wage theft:

It would be nice if some MP would take this up and put it in the ballot. It would be better if a party did it, and made it official policy. Apparently, there's a party out there which claims to stand for workers. I wonder what they think of it?