Better protections for vulnerable contractors

Submissions closed: 14 February 2020, 5pm

The Government has announced the formation of a tripartite working group to progress the work to better protect vulnerable contractors.

The Government wants to ensure that all workers in New Zealand have access to decent work conditions and fair remuneration. The feedback received from public consultation in 2020 made it clear that some workers who are engaged as contractors are vulnerable to poor outcomes, because they lack both the protections offered to employees by law, and the power to negotiate a better deal.

The Government has created a tripartite working group with Business New Zealand and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, and facilitated by Doug Martin, former Deputy State Services Commissioner and co-founder of the consultancy Martin Jenkins.

The Working Group has drawn on the feedback from the consultation to develop recommendations that have recently been shared with the Government.

Read the tripartite working group report [PDF, 440 KB]

The consultation showed varying levels of support for a range of options that could better protect vulnerable contractors:

  • There was widespread support for more resourcing to enforce the current system.
  • There was widespread opposition to creating a new category of workers eligible for a limited set of rights and protections.
  • There were mixed levels of support for other options, such as placing the burden of proving a worker is a contractor on firms, giving Labour Inspectors the ability to decide workers’ employment status, and defining some occupations of workers as employees.

The work to better protect contractors is separate to the recently announced Fair Pay Agreement system, which focuses on employees only at this stage.

Read the summary of submissions [PDF, 2.4 MB]

Background documents

Better protections for vulnerable contractors consultation

The Government sought feedback from the public on 4 groups of possible options for change. The options aimed to:

  • ensure that workers receive their minimum rights and entitlements
  • reduce the imbalance of bargaining power between firms and contractors who are vulnerable to poor outcomes
  • ensure that system settings encourage inclusive economic growth and competition

The consultation aimed to explore the advantages, disadvantages and costs of the different options, and how these options could be effectively designed and implemented to deliver better outcomes for people in New Zealand.

Last updated: 25 June 2021