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Just work conditions are a human right

Graphic: Worker stands outside cafe

The Commission has recommended that workers be guaranteed minimum hours as well as full minimum wage protection.

The Human Rights Commission says New Zealanders' right to work in just and favourable conditions will become more of a reality today with the scrapping of "zero-hour" contracts.

"The right to work in just and favourable conditions is a human right, work plays a central role in the quality of life enjoyed by New Zealanders and their families," said EEO Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue.

"Contracts that require workers to be available without guaranteeing those workers any paid work are unjust and open to abuse. Thousands of low income earners across the country – many of them women, Pasifika, Maori, disabled and younger New Zealanders – will be favourably affected by this important development."

The introduction of a parliamentary bi-partisan agreement to introduce a "minimum hours of work" clause will effectively eliminate zero-hour contracts.

In its submission to the select committee, the Commission recommended a change that would guarantee minimum hours as well as full minimum wage protection.

The Commission's Tracking Equalities at Work online tool highlights vulnerable workers who are affected most by zero-hour contracts.

"Vulnerable population groups have been more likely to be subject to zero-hour contracts and other exploitative employment conditions. Workers who are constantly concerned about income security perform less well at work and this income insecurity impacts negatively on health," said Dr Blue.

New Zealand is a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Article 7 provides that State parties are required to recognise the right of all persons to:

  • Just and favourable conditions of work
  • Fair wages and equal remuneration
  • Remuneration that provides a decent living for the worker and their family.

Date: 10 March 2016

Source: New Zealand Human Rights Commission

Image credits

  1. Worker stands outside cafe - Kin Mun Lee, Flickr; http://bit.ly/1XVVpeo