As of April 1, the minimum wage is now $15.75, an increase of 50 cents, a welcome increase to the wages and salaries of many General Aviation (GA) pilots.
“There are a lot of our general aviation members on the minimum wage, including flight instructors, pilots working for smaller airlines, lecturers, c-category instructors and helicopter pilots,” NZALPA General Aviation Advocate Tom Buckley said.
“Some are often paid even less than minimum wage as contractors.”
Employers must now be vigilant to ensure contracts meet the requirements of the law, he added. The government is also sending notifications to employers reminding them of this responsibility as part of its update of the Minimum Wage Act.
There are penalties for those who breach the minimum wage laws and employees are entitled to back-pay if contractual changes occur after April 1.
Employers can also face a banning order on employment and hiring if they breach the Minimum Wage Act.
The NZALPA team has already been approached by members to check if their contracts are compliant and Buckley will be both leading the checking team as well as focusing on educating the GA membership about what this means for their contracts.
This includes a tour of many regional airports to meet with GA members in coming months.
“Many pilots are currently working for less than minimum wage and almost paying for the pleasure to work in aviation,” Buckley said.
“New pilots, who have finished their training and need to increase their flying hours, end up with the worst employment conditions and working at the riskier end of the aviation industry.
“At least with the recent changes to zero-hour contracts and now the minimum wage, conditions are beginning to improve.
“I can’t stress enough that the minimum wage is not an aspiration, it’s the law. It’s our job to ensure our members are receiving the right pay from their employers.”
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