At its core, the need for a Corporate Manslaughter Law in New Zealand is about valuing human life and ensuring that workers are safe.
Every week, a Kiwi worker is killed on the job. This law would hold the worst offenders accountable, create an incentive for businesses to prioritise health and safety, and close gaps in our current laws. Penalties would be designed to ensure that corporations face consequences for their actions.
Let’s spotlight the safety and wellbeing of our workers by supporting a Corporate Manslaughter Law.
Work-related fatalities in New Zealand have remained consistent and unacceptably high. On average, a Kiwi worker is killed on the job every week. Workplace causalities are ingrained into New Zealand’s working landscape and more measures are needed to hold the worst offenders accountable. We need to signal that New Zealand will not tolerate our widespread poor health and safety practices.
A corporate manslaughter law would apply to the worst cases where a company’s actions led to the death of a worker. By ensuring companies are held accountable for these actions, an incentive will be created for business to take health and safety more seriously. This will be enforced through the regulator and the most serious breaches could result in criminal charges.
This law would also stop companies from avoiding punishment by hiding behind complex corporate structures, and so would help deter wrongful conduct on the part of corporations.
For more on what a corporate manslaughter law would look like, click here.
No, a corporate manslaughter law would not introduce any more regulations or duties on businesses. What it will do is ensure that existing requirements on businesses are being met, and where there are egregious breaches of those duties, corporations are held accountable.
a: Yes we do, but some gaps exists in our laws. These gaps would be addressed by a corporate manslaughter law, and would include: The ability to find corporations culpable for poor health and safety, and are held properly accountable, and
b: Ensuring that individuals in charge of these businesses are likewise held accountable in a manner proportional to the offending.
Currently, there is no law that includes these considerations.
Corporate manslaughter laws will also ensure that CEOs and directors of businesses that kill their workers can’t escape liability through complex corporate structures.
Clearly, a corporation cannot be sent to jail in the same way as a person can. Penalties that a corporation would face if found guilty of corporate manslaughter therefore need to parallel those an individual would face. For example:
a: Fines that adequately reflect reputational damage to the offending corporation.
b: Imposition of restrictions on business operations, and the director(s) ability to draw a profit from the business.
c: Disqualifying the company’s directors from holding directorships for the offending and other companies.