People with disabilities in New Zealand not paid minimum wage People with disabilities in New Zealand not paid minimum wage

People with disabilities in New Zealand not paid minimum wage
07 Aug 2018

People with disabilities in New Zealand are reportedly being paid legally as little as NZ$0.89 (US$0.60) an hour to work.

According to 1 News, 1,500 minimum wage exemptions have been granted by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) over the last three years for organisations that employ disabled people.

More than two-thirds of these workers are paid less than NZ$5 (US$3.38) an hour, and five of the lowest paid earn less than NZ$1 (US$0.68) an hour. One employee, who has Downs Syndrome and works in community service, was being paid a mere NZ$0.89 (US$0.60) per hour. The minimum wage in New Zealand is NZ$16.50 (US$11.17).

Trish Grant, advocacy director of IHC, an organisation that supports people with disabilities, said the situation had to stop.

"The minimum wage exemptions are a weird arrangement where people earn very little money for working hard, and that's not fair and it's not right," she said. "People earning less than a dollar an hour, they don't have any idea about their employment conditions. They may have an employment agreement but they're not getting annual leave or sick leave, those sorts of things." 

Grant called on the Social Development Ministry and the MBIE to immediately review the practice.

Minister for disability issues Carmel Sepuloni agreed that something needed to be done. "It's not acceptable, actually we know that it's discriminatory, it runs against the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities," she told TVNZ.

She is waiting to receive more advice on what action to take this month.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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People with disabilities in New Zealand are reportedly being paid legally as little as NZ$0.89 (US$0.60) an hour to work.

According to 1 News, 1,500 minimum wage exemptions have been granted by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) over the last three years for organisations that employ disabled people.

More than two-thirds of these workers are paid less than NZ$5 (US$3.38) an hour, and five of the lowest paid earn less than NZ$1 (US$0.68) an hour. One employee, who has Downs Syndrome and works in community service, was being paid a mere NZ$0.89 (US$0.60) per hour. The minimum wage in New Zealand is NZ$16.50 (US$11.17).

Trish Grant, advocacy director of IHC, an organisation that supports people with disabilities, said the situation had to stop.

"The minimum wage exemptions are a weird arrangement where people earn very little money for working hard, and that's not fair and it's not right," she said. "People earning less than a dollar an hour, they don't have any idea about their employment conditions. They may have an employment agreement but they're not getting annual leave or sick leave, those sorts of things." 

Grant called on the Social Development Ministry and the MBIE to immediately review the practice.

Minister for disability issues Carmel Sepuloni agreed that something needed to be done. "It's not acceptable, actually we know that it's discriminatory, it runs against the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities," she told TVNZ.

She is waiting to receive more advice on what action to take this month.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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Swiss expats hope AIE will become bargaining chips for social security treaty

Number of payroll investigations jump significantly in New Zealand

Australian Red Cross admits underpaying thousands of staff

 

 

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