The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment called for submissions on the Discussion Document concerning Better Protections for Contractors. The Discussion Document provided a variety of proposals for consideration.
The key points from our submission were as follows:
- We accept that there are circumstances in which contractors are vulnerable to exploitation and subject to unacceptable working conditions and therefore applaud the Government's decision to engage in this consultation process.
- We encourage the Ministry to gather robust evidence that will define and quantify the problems the Discussion Document seeks to address before decisions are made in relation to implementing any of the proposals.
- We believe the Government must strike an appropriate balance between addressing exploitative behaviour and protecting bona fide arrangements that have been entered into in good faith.
- In our view some of the proposals are too far-reaching and create significant risk of unintended consequences and collateral damage. Any initiatives that are introduced must be targeted at egregious behaviour and must not affect productivity and innovation in the business sector detrimentally.
- We are broadly supportive of the proposals that seek to deter misclassification of employees as contractors (options 1-3) and to make it easier for employees to access a determination of their employment status (options 4 – 5). We have reservations about option 6, which would move the burden of proof to firms, and do not support option 7, which would seek to extend the application of employment status determinations. We do not support options 8 and 9, which would seek to change who is an employee under New Zealand law nor options 10 and 11, which would enhance protections or contractors without making them employees. Broadly we are supportive of those options that focus on education and enforcement and opposed to those options that would change the current law and settings.
We provided our submission on 7 February 2020.