Joe Hendren

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Achtung! Labour party members bill includes youth rates

Labour MP Darien Fenton's current private members bill aims to amend the Minimum Wage Act 1983 to "extend its provisions to apply to payments under a contract for services that are remunerated at below the minimum wage"”

It is less well known that the Minimum Wage and Remunerationion Amendment Bill also contains provision for 'youth rates'.

Section 4A(1) The Governor General may, by Order in Council, make regulations prescribing the minimum rates of remuneration payable to any person working under a contract for services
Section 4A(2) Regulations made under this section may define minimum rates remunerationion by reference to the age of the person performing the services or by piecework. (my emphasis)

One hopes this is not a sign that Labour intends to vote against the Minimum Wage (Abolition of Age Discrimination) Amendment Bill when Sue Bradford's bill comes back from select committee.

It is great to see the Ministry of Justice report on the Fenton bill inform Labour that basing the rate of remunerationion on the age of the person is not consistent with the Bill of Rights Act or the Human Rights Act. Blatant discrimination rarely is.

"According to the proposed section 4A(2), regulations made under this new regulatory power may define minimum rates of remuneration, inter alia, by reference to the age of the person performing the services. We are of the view that this provision does not authorise the Governor-General to make orders that discriminate on the ground of age in a way that is prohibited by the Bill of Rights Act or the Human Rights Act 1993."

While the inclusion of youth rates in Fenton's bill is disappointing, it does provide another lobbying opportunity on the youth rates issue, as submissions on the Minimum Wage and Remunerationion Amendment Bill (MWRA) close on Thursday (12th of October). If you know of young people who are or have been grossly underpaid for piece work (such as pamphlet deliveries) it would be worthwhile to let the select committee know about this too.

While the intent of Fenton's bill is laudable, careful work is going to be required to implement its provisions. As the so called 'binary divide' between contract of service (employment) and self employment continues to become less and less clear cut, I predict the MWRA Bill is going to be the first of many bills to deal with this issue.

Tags: Politics, New Zealand,Employment, Parliament

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