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The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter.

New employment relations amendments finally give certainty

The final components of March 2016’s amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000, which come into force on April 1 and essentially abolish zero-hours contracts, are being celebrated by unions as a world first.

New Zealand workers will be protected by amendments to employment relations legislation in which employers must either guarantee employees hours of work or reasonably compensate them if they are required to be on call or standby.

“Unions all over the world are fighting to make real changes to employment legislation to combat the rise of zero-hours contracts,” General Aviation (GA) Advocate Tom Buckley says. “To be seen as leading this change is not only empowering for Kiwi employees in a number of industries but a sign to the rest of the world that the change can work.

“It is highly likely that many of our GA members’ Individual Employment Agreements (IEAs) will not meet the new standards, so we encourage them to talk to us in the first instance about the changes.”

The legislation, which was passed early last year, has been in transition since April 1, 2016, as employers and employees make amendments to current IEAs.

April 1, 2017, marks the first day that all IEAs need to meet law requirements.

“NZALPA is assisting members on what is to be gained from these amendments and how to negotiate either their IEA or CEAs (Collective Employment Agreements) for pilots and air traffic controllers,” Buckley says.

Agreed hours of work amendments should outline number of hours, days and times of work, while the changes to availability provisions ensure more than 92,000 workers across New Zealand have the right to be compensated for being on call or standby to work.

“I’m sure we will see a lot of employers begin to guarantee their employees work hours, as availability provisions mean they will have to compensate employees for being available to work – it was always our hope that employers would choose to guarantee as it’s ultimately the cheaper option for them than paying people to be on standby,” Buckley says.

“It’s a huge win for NZALPA’s GA members, as they can start to have certainty and security around their income.”

Recalling a recent incident, Buckley remembers a case of GA pilots waiting at an aero club without pay all day for possible walk-in customers, for which they would be paid.

Buckley was part of campaigning for changes when he was Assistant National Secretary at the Unite union.

“The amendments are a victory resultant of the vigorous zero-hours’ campaigning and will level the playing field between employers and employees,” he says.

“It always seemed unacceptable to us that employers could pass down their losses by cancelling or reducing shifts – and we’ve finally achieved what we hope to be a radical change to that philosophy.”

The new amendments also outline that cancellations of shifts will need to be compensated for, and the employee must be given reasonable notice.

“It really means that across all industries, employers will not be able to call an employee at the last minute and say they will no longer be needed for a shift without compensating them – this was a critical issue for service station employees while I was at Unite,” Buckley says.

Buckley adds that the new laws will also aid victims of favouritism and changing rosters in the workplace.

  • For more information about the amendments and how they might affect you, contact General Aviation Advocate Tom Buckley: general.aviation@nzalpa.org.nz

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