Fair Employment in the Sector

There is a big focus on job creation in the wake of Covid-19, and we want to be part of a solution that creates meaningful, dignified work for people in the zero waste sector. In last week’s newsletter, we discussed the results of the salary survey. One of the anomalies in the survey was the situation for zero waste educators who are employed against those who work as contractors.

As a general rule, contractors earn more because they are entirely responsible for their own tax and ACC payments and do not receive sick or holiday pay. Yet our survey indicated that zero waste educators who work as contractors were earning less per hour than those working as employees.

It is important for employers to know what their legal responsibilities are when using people as contractors, and also what best practice should be. The Employment NZ website (the old Department of Labour) has valuable resources about the difference between employees and contractors, employer rights and responsibilities (including to casual workers) and a variety of other common questions. If you are seeking more information about contracting including some best practice guidelines, check out this Going Contracting page. Worksafe NZ has some excellent information about contracting and Health and Safety requirements. At the end of 2019, MBIE issued a discussion document Better Protections for Contractors outlining some of the issues in the sector particularly relating to those contractors who exist in a gray zone because they have little control over their work. 

The Living Wage has emerged as a response to growing poverty and inequality across Aotearoa and charts an specific annual monetary figure that constitutes the amount people need to live that kind of dignified life. They have just launched a petition to support Auckland Council cleaners who are receiving less than the minimum wage. The union for the zero waste sector is FIRST and plays a vital role in ensuring fair wages for members. 

We encourage ZWN members to explore the Living Wage framework, FIRST union and to review your own renumeration structure to ensure it is inline with legal requirements and ethical practice.