Bargaining agenda - work rights for living!

We all have busy 21st century lives and it’s over time for workplaces to change to reflect this reality. This can benefit everyone – employers will benefit from higher productivity, improved recruitment and retention and better staff morale and it will dramatically improve the quality of workers’ lives and levels of job satisfaction.

The PSA Women’s Network is developing an agenda called Work Rights for Living. This will give us a “to do” list when we’re talking to employers, negotiating employment agreements and lobbying for change to legislation.

What do you think needs to change?

We’ve set out some ideas to get the discussion started. Are they good ideas? Are they unrealistic or are we not aiming high enough? You can add your comments in each of the sections that follow.

Got friends and colleagues who might also be interested in joining in this discussion? Please forward this link on to them.

Want to sit down with a group of colleagues and come up with some quick responses? Great idea! You can enter these in the sections that follow too.

What is needed?

• To regularly use an agreed survey tool to identify and problems and a commitment to address them.

• Training for managers and designated contact/support people

• Accessible clear procedures to report and address any issues.

American research suggests that 10% of the workforce have experienced violence from their partner in the past 12 months.  The impact on work performance puts job security at risk, with up to half the women in one study reporting losing a job, at least in part due to family violence.


What is needed?

• Recognition from employers that family violence sometimes affects employees and a commitment to support employees in this situation.

• Access for employees experiencing family violence to paid special leave for medical appointments, legal proceedings and other activities related to family violence.

• Ability to take paid carers/dependent leave for those supporting a person experiencing family violence to accompany them to court, to hospital or to mind children.

• Employers to agree to reasonable requests for flexible working, relocation, changes to work contact details etc. to avoid harassing contact.

• Access to EAP from professionals trained specifically in family violence.

New Zealand has a way to go before it can match the parental leave and other support for families in other OECD countries.  Here’s some information about current entitlements.  The Families Commission has made comprehensive recommendations for changes.  We’d like to endorse them.  We can progress some through bargaining for collective agreements and others through working alongside other interested groups to made change politically;


What is needed?

Parental leave – job protected leave

• Increase the amount of job-protected leave that families have access to.

• Include in this maternity leave, separate leave for partners and some “family” leave that can be used by either partner.

• Consideration should be given to being able to transfer some of the family leave entitlement to another eligible family member who is engaged in a parenting role.

• Change the eligibility criteria so that-part timers and those who have had casual or multiple short-term but continuous jobs are not disadvantaged.

• Consideration given to allow family leave to be able to be taken before the child is 3 years old, in blocks of time or in combination with part-time work.

• Make maternity leave a fixed entitlement for immediately before and after the birth.

• Partner leave to be able to be taken flexibly – e.g. at the same time as maternity leave, after maternity leave is completed, in blocks of time or part-time in combination with part-time paid work at any time in the child’s first year of life.


Parental leave - paid
• Give partners an entitlement to paid parental leave that is separate from maternal paid parental leave.

• Extend the current 14 week’s paid parental leave 6 months (or 7 months if partner leave is taken consecutively).

• Change the income assessment criteria used for parental leave payment to ensure those with an irregular work history are not disadvantaged. 

• Increase the maximum payment cap for paid parental leave.

• Employer to top up the government payment to full salary or fund extra paid parental leave.

Supporting return to work

• Agreed and monitored systems to ensure that those on parental leave get all the information they need about work, including change management, promotion and training opportunities.

• A shorter period of notice of early return from parental leave.

• A phased return to work for those intending to eventually return to work full time, this could include, e.g a right to shorter hours for the first 2 years of the child’s life.

• Good infant feeding facilities and paid infant feeding breaks.


Other leave to support families
• Special arrangements for women who give birth prematurely – e.g. an extra week of maternity leave for each week that a baby is premature.

• Ensure leave taken because of stillbirth and miscarriage before 24 weeks is not included as sick leave or in sickness absence monitoring.

• Paid time off for both partners to attend ante-natal and post-natal appointments (e.g. midwife visits or Plunkett appointments).

• Reasonable paid time off for fertility treatment

• Paid leave for foster parent training

• Job protected planned carer’s leave for those needing to provide, e.g nursing care following a serious illness or discharge from hospital, respite care, to assist a dependent into or out of residential care, to assist with transport of a dependent to and from hospital or doctor’s appointments etc.

The public sector has a low rate of part-time working and workers often pay a penalty for working part-time in terms of their rate of pay and the kind of work made available to them.


What is needed?

• Commitment from employers to equality of pay and employment opportunities for part time workers.

• Rights to part-time working for those returning from parental leave and transitioning out of the workforce.