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Additional protections needed for employees in small businesses

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions was joined today by working people across the country to submit on a bill designed to provide additional protection for employees in small businesses.

The Health and Safety at Work (Health and Safety Representatives and Committees) Amendment Bill would allow workers in small businesses greater access to health and safety representatives and committees.

Currently, small businesses of fewer than 20 workers in a low-risk sector do not have to hold elections for health and safety representatives. The bill makes it mandatory for all businesses to hold elections if workers request this.

The NZCTU strongly supports the intention of the Bill.

NZCTU National Secretary Melissa Ansell-Bridges said the Bill would help employees have a better say in their workplaces’ health and safety practices.

“It’s crucial that health and safety outcomes are improved in small businesses. By bringing stronger Worker Engagement, Participation, and Representation (WEPR), we can improve the wellbeing of thousands of working people.”

Ansell-Bridges said many workers in small industries did not feel safe speaking out about health and safety.

“These workers are often in closer proximity to management and are less likely to be represented by a union. This means there are fewer avenues of support available. This Bill will help remedy that situation.

“All businesses have a responsibility to deliver good health and safety outcomes regardless of their size.”

The NZCTU supports the additional recommendations in the Public Service Association’s submission, including a statutory register of health and safety representatives, and legislative support for ‘roving health and safety representatives.’