Kiwis are sharing their work woes and opinions on mental health in the workplace, saying employers need to take responsibility for their workers' well-being.

Experts are predicting "dramatic changes" to employment in New Zealand in 2018.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed that paid parental leave will be increased to 26 weeks by 2020.

Employment law specialist Max Whitehead told the Herald many of the changes coming in this year, including minimum wage rise, adjustments to the Equal Pay Act, and extended paid parental leave, will be good for employees and less so for employers.

Newstalk ZB listeners today shared their experiences with employers and mental illness.


One person said a co worker was demoted when he asked for counselling after a relationship ended.

"I know of one guy [who] went through a bad relationship breakup and asked to get counselling . . . he was demoted and told to get over it," said the person, who worked in earthworks as a machine operator.

There was "a lot of mental illness with some workers and we are pushed harder and harder to do the work faster and faster".

One dairy farm contract milker said they had worked on eight different farms over their career.

"I tell you now, big landowners don't give a crap about how many hours the workers work.

"Farm landowners are the most greedy people in the world, they expect you to live in crap [houses] and work long hours."

Another listener said it should be up to the employer to "keep an eye on their staff's well-being".

"Someone who is depressed does not have the wherewithal to approach a boss."

But another listener was less sympathetic, saying there was a "massive problem" if workers needed "some kind of mental health therapy to help them cope going back to work after two weeks off over summer".

The discussion follows a mother's plea in the Herald for farmers to be allowed to "have a life".

Huntly farmhand Colby Harris died in a suspected suicide last month, aged 21.

Mother Gail Harris believes the farming industry is hard on its young.

"What needs to change is expectations of these young people," she said.

"They need to be able to have a life outside of what they're doing. In the last year he had given up all the things he liked to do because the hours were too long. He was absolutely exhausted."


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


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