Holiday legislation 'too complicated'

by Emile Donovan / 12 September, 2017

Photo: 123RF

Businesses are calling for the Holidays Act to be scrapped and rewritten, saying it's too complicated and is costing businesses time and money.

A survey from the law firm Simpson Grierson found nine out of 10 firms placed simplifying the act at the top of their employment wishlist.

The Holidays Act became law in 2003, and is largely based on legislation from the early 1980s.

David Jenkins from the Payroll Practitioners Association said the legislation was messy, and hard for employers to get their heads around.

"The only way to be compliant with the act is to constantly watch, monitor and change settings in your payroll system. It's way over the top in regards to compliance."

Employers' main concern is how the act calculates annual leave, public holidays, sick days, and bereavement leave.

With the rise of part-time and casual work, they say it makes it near-impossible to accurately figure out how much workers are owed when they take leave.

Mr Jenkins said there was a lack of clarity, and the legislation - which should help employers - actually hindered them.

The provision in the act for four weeks holiday after 12 months continuous employment was straightforward for those who work the same hours every week, he said.

"But as soon as I get someone that works different hours week after week, when they get to 12 months you get four weeks of... what? That's the problem - the act can't help you define what a week is."

Since 2012, the Labour Inspectorate has been investigating some of the country's biggest employers to make sure they're complying with the Holidays Act.

Of the 118 completed investigations, 37 organisations - about a third - have had to pay arrears, to the tune of at least $43 million.

Simpson Grierson partner Phillipa Muir said that was a lot of money, and told a story in itself about the effectiveness of the legislation.

"The scale of the remediation that MBIE [the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment] is saying needs to come into play by these employers just shows how significant this issue is, and why it needs to be a big issue for the incoming government."

But Council of Trade Unions president Richard Wagstaff said employers should figure out their obligations rather than complain the legislation was flawed.

"The big problem here is the fact that employers haven't done enough to apply the current act, and to quickly call for a change to that when they know they've been caught short doesn't seem right to us."

Mr Wagstaff said there were more pressing concerns for the incoming government than rewriting laws that already did the job.

This article was originally published by RNZ.

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

The Free Man – movie review
80303 2017-09-22 00:00:00Z Movies

The Free Man – movie review

by Russell Baillie

A Kiwi documentary looks at what makes extreme athletes want to take the plunge.

Read more
Where on TV to watch the election results come in
80312 2017-09-22 00:00:00Z Television

Where on TV to watch the election results come in

by Fiona Rae

As the race for the Beehive hots up, TV and radio will have full election-night coverage.

Read more
New study suggests carbohydrates are worse than fats. Do we need to panic?
80307 2017-09-22 00:00:00Z Nutrition

New study suggests carbohydrates are worse than fa…

by Jennifer Bowden

The average Kiwi already eats a low-carb diet, so no, there’s no need to panic.

Read more
A pop-up design market, Diwali and more great Auckland events coming up
80333 2017-09-21 11:46:56Z What's on

A pop-up design market, Diwali and more great Auck…

by India Hendrikse

Your guide to what's on now and later in Auckland

Read more
Leaky homes: 'If you can't afford to pay for it, then tough luck'
80321 2017-09-21 09:46:28Z Property

Leaky homes: 'If you can't afford to pay for it, t…

by Phil Pennington

Leaky home owners are struggling with escalating repair costs that are adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to their debt.

Read more
Ministry of Social Development staff used false names, fearing client attacks
80315 2017-09-21 08:55:49Z Social issues

Ministry of Social Development staff used false na…

by Edward Gay

Ministry of Social Development staff have used false names on legal documents because they say they fear attacks by volatile clients.

Read more
How we vote: talking politics with parents
80249 2017-09-21 00:00:00Z Politics

How we vote: talking politics with parents

by Paperboy

How our parents might influence our political leanings: Five writers explore their parents' voting habits ahead of the election.

Read more
Voluntourism: When charity does more harm than good
80318 2017-09-21 00:00:00Z Social issues

Voluntourism: When charity does more harm than goo…

by The Listener

Some of the world’s poorest children are taken from their families and used as bait for the booming business of feel-good “voluntourism”.

Read more