Promises of increased sick leave and tax cuts

Andrew Little.

The Labour Party is promising to double minimum sick leave entitlements for workers to 10 days a year and raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour.

The party's Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Andrew Little announced the policy in Wellington this morning.

The current minimum wage is $18.90 an hour.

Little says it's time to leave behind New Zealand's low wage culture.

"Workers play a key role in getting our economy moving.

"We cannot grow successful businesses without a strong and thriving workforce."

Little says managing COVID-19 has shown how important it is for workers to stay home, even if they are sick.

Labour is also promising to increase wages and legislate for fair pay agreements.

Labour's economic plan is built around five key principles: investing in people, growing jobs, preparing for the future, supporting small businesses, and positioning New Zealand globally.

"By investing in our workers, we are supporting New Zealand families while continuing to boost businesses and our economy.

"A race to the bottom on wages comes at the cost of our most vulnerable workers and undermines our productivity. Investing in our people needs to be a key part of our economic recovery from Covid-19. We want a productive and highly-skilled workforce where everyone shares in the benefits of economic growth."

Also included in the policy are:

  •   •  Recognising security guards as vulnerable workers to ensure their terms and conditions are protected

  •   •  Ensuring that Seafarer Welfare Centres provide better services

  •   •  Raising the age for workers to be allowed to perform hazardous work, and ensure all workers have the right to elect health and safety representatives

  •   •  Strengthening the Employment Relations Act to make it harder for collective agreements to be undermined.

National says the latest Labour initiative will "cripple businesses as they battle the recession".

Following Little's announcement this morning, National Party Leader Judith Collins says Labour is piling the costs on to employers, making it harder for them to hire new people and making future wage increases even more difficult.

She says National plans to reduce taxes.

“Increasing sick leave entitlements from five to ten days a year while also increasing the minimum wage to $20 next year shows how out of touch Labour is when it comes to small business.

“Modern employers have bought in flexible working practices to ensure their workers’ welfare and well-being.  This policy is an old-fashioned approach to dictating employment conditions that doesn’t reflect modern, flexible working practices.

“It will only make it harder for workers to keep their jobs.

“National’s plan to stimulate the economy ensures that workers keep more money in pockets.

“National believes in a flexible work place but to legislate for any change in sick leave when small businesses are fighting for their lives is incomprehensible.

“Businesses are hurting and while National is doing all it can to support them with policies such as JobStart and BusinessStart, Labour piles on more pressure, threatening livelihoods.”

-Additional reporting by RNZ

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