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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Volunteers debate

Volunteers debate
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New Zealand

Parliament has debated the first reading of the Health & Safety at Work (Volunteer Associations) Amendment Bill, introduced as a private member’s bill by National MP Harete Hipango to exempt volunteer groups which employ people for no more than 100 hours a week from the definition of a PCBU, and hence from the HSW Act.

The bill is opposed by Labour, on the grounds that it strips legal protection from paid workers.

Speaking to the amendment, Harete Hipango noted that 2013 data showed there were 114,110 non-profit institutions, of which 11,000 employ staff; of these, some 7500 employ between one and five people.

Excluding those groups who employ people for no more than 100 hours a week – the equivalent of 2.5 people – would reduce the administrative burden on small volunteer associations, and remove a disincentive for acquiring new volunteers.

“The time and cost of compliance and regulation is killing the volunteer sector in New Zealand,” she told Parliament. “Red tape and paperwork doesn’t save lives; it crushes the dreams and aspirations.”

In response, Labour’s Kieran McAnulty said it was not acceptable to create a distinction in law so that some workers would be removed from coverage of health and safety legislation. He recalled the same issue came up during submissions on the HSW Act, and the select committee rejected them at the time.

“I wonder if members ... remember when the National Party proposed that worm farming was more dangerous than farming – than the agriculture industry. This is an absolute nonsense. There is a principle at stake here.”

He noted that WorkSafe is not aware of any particular issues relating to the burden of legislative compliance on volunteer organisations.



People Mentioned:
Harete Hipango; Kieran McAnulty
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