Four weeks annual leave on Alliance agenda

  • Laila Harré
Labour

Associate Labour Minister Laila Harré says four weeks annual leave
will be a key feature of the Alliance's agenda for the remainder of
this parliamentary term.

The second joint employer-union advisory committee report released
today on the Holidays Act did not contain a clear policy
recommendation on whether New Zealand's minimum entitlement should be
increased to four weeks, or remain at three.

Employers favour the status quo, and unions would like the minimum
entitlement increased to four weeks.

Laila Harré; says four weeks annual leave is part of a new
strategy the Alliance will be launching at next weekend's annual
conference.

"Increasing New Zealand's minimum entitlement from three to four
weeks has always been one of the Alliance's priorities for improving
minimum protections for the most vulnerable workers.

"While it's true that some workers get already receive four weeks,
setting this as a minimum standard will ensure that employees with
the least bargaining power qualify as of right. It also means the
best person for the job won't be selected on the basis of his or her
willingness to accept inferior conditions," she says.

Employment Relations Service analysis of 2098 collective contracts
covering 383,835 employees as at October 24 2001 revealed an average
annual leave entitlement of 15 days.

Laila Harré; says the Alliance sees four weeks annual leave as
a solution to two significant problems facing New Zealand workers
- over work and under employment.

"On the one hand it would give workers more time away from the
workplace, and on the other it would create more jobs because some
businesses will hire more staff to cover these breaks."

An increase to four weeks - the first increase since 1974 -
would also bring New Zealand into line with international standards.

Australia has four weeks minimum annual leave. Austria has around
five. And nearly 60 other countries also have minimum leave
entitlements better than those in New Zealand. Workers in countries
like France, Germany and Sweden all have five to six weeks annual
leave.