New Zealand now a nation of contractors, says employment specialist

Morning Talk 09/08/2018
Photo: Getty.

An employment law specialist says things may have swung too far in favour of employers when it comes to workplace relations.

Max Whitehead, managing director of The Whitehead Group, says the move towards making employees contractors has ended up with many employers contracting outside of employment law.

Most employers don't have a legal dictionary beside them.

“New Zealand’s become a nation of contractors, for many reasons, but primarily [it’s because] the employment laws have become so difficult.

“What [employers] are worried about is employment law and falling foul of it, because most employers don’t have a legal dictionary beside them every day of the week.”

Speaking with Mark Sainsbury on RadioLIVE, Mr Whitehead says being an employee offers protections in law, which simply don’t apply when you are moved from employee status to being a contractor.

While employees are entitled to the Employment Relations Act, holiday and sick pay, among other benefits, contractors are typically entitled to much less.

“All [contractors have] got to rely on is what’s been contracted initially, and generally that’s pretty slim,” he said.  

While the coalition Government’s increase in minimum wage was an attempt to help employees, Mr Whitehead told RadioLIVE that it actually has hurt many employees.

“Employers will go off and convert their employees to contractors and pay that rate that they’ve already paid, if not less.”

Listen to the full interview with Max Whitehead above.

Morning Talk with Mark Sainsbury, 9am - 12pm Weekdays and streaming live on 'rova' channel 9 - available on Android and iPhone.