National and A.C.T., clearly not having learnt a thing about low income employees and why some of the socio-economic problems we have, exist, are proposing an array of destructive employment policies.
There are numerous problems with those policies which I list below and which I will then attempt to explain in greater depth:
- New Zealand workers have comparatively little sick leave compared to most countries in the O.E.C.D., with just 5 paid sick days per annum
- New Zealand incomes have not risen fast enough to keep pace with increases in G.S.T., inflation and other income hostile factors
- Work place accidents each year cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions. Some are pretty minor, such as a sprained ankle and a day or two off work, whilst the worst ones involve death and sometimes significant destruction of property
- An employee who is fatigued or stressed is more accident prone than someone who has regular breaks
- Employers constantly complain about not being able to find appropriately trained staff
- Discriminatory practices despite being illegal are rife in the work place if the number and seriousness of complaints that result in court proceedings are anything to go by
In this article I examine the first two.
Whilst New Zealand is better than the United States which has no Federally mandated sick leave, the 5 days sick leave we are entitled to is comparatively little compared to other countries. Australians get 10 days sick leave per annum, which rolls over to the following year if not fully used. 145 nations provide some kind of sick leave for employees and 127 provide a week or more annually.
In a year like 2020 where COVID19 has made staying at home if one is sick essential even if the symptoms are not COVID-related, means an already relatively small amount of sick leave can be expended quickly. If a person then gets sick a second time, having already needed a week off work, they will not have any leave to fall back on. The move to introduce another 5 days of sick leave, giving us 10 is therefore welcome.
Despite this there are people in National and A.C.T. who think that the business community is going to be made to suffer unnecessarily. Actually many in the business community believe that they need to treat their employees better, particularly those in sectors that were essential for the functioning of the country in this COVID19 emergency.
David Seymour, Leader of the A.C.T. Party wants to cut the minimum wage to $17.70/hr from the current $18.96/hr and freeze it for 3 years.
Our wages are not rising fast enough to keep pace with G.S.T., inflation and other income-hostile factors. Whilst G.S.T. only goes up if a political party -usually National – win the election, it is unnecessarily harsh on those with low incomes. A person on $30,000 per annum before tax, they will $24,750 after income tax. If they go to the service station and puts $50 of petrol in their car, person will pay 0.167% of their annual income just buying that petro. A person on $90,000 per annum goes to the same service station and puts $50 of petrol in their car. and will use 0.02% of their annual income.
If that low income person also has to pay $200 a week in rent; $75 for groceries, with the fuel added in, that will be $325 per week. This says nothing about power, internet, any medication, clothing or other expenditures that they have to cover.
It makes me wonder if any of the National M.P.’s or Mr Seymour have worked a minimum wage job when I see these suggestions.