Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Labour on workplace reforms: 'It's likely we'll support it'

Andrew Little said the Government had approached Labour because it did not have the numbers to pass the legislation. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Andrew Little said the Government had approached Labour because it did not have the numbers to pass the legislation. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Labour Party says it will support workplace reforms at their next hurdle but wants changes to zero hours contracts before it backs them further.

The party confirmed its position this afternoon, saying it would support the Employment Standards Legislation Bill at its second reading. If its proposed amendments were adopted by the Government, it would back the legislation through its final stages.

Leader Andrew Little said the Government was open to agreeing to Labour's amendments.

"We still have to wait to see what the detail is, but on the basis of the indications given so far, it's likely we'll support it."

Labour wanted changes to rules which required employees to be on call without a guarantee of work, and to short-notice termination of offers of short-term work.

Mr Little said the Government had approached Labour because it did not have the numbers to pass the legislation.

United Future plans to vote for the bill at the second reading but wants the Government to agree to firm up compensation for workers whose shifts are cancelled.

The Maori Party said it was still in discussions about its position. Co-leader Marama Fox said she was concerned about zero hours contracts, in particular employees' ability to advocate for themselves.

"These are people who probably may not have the capacity ... to go to court or to take it up with their employer."

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said minor parties had been misled on the legislation. He planned to meet with leaders to get them back onside.

But he was confident that the Government had the numbers to pass the legislation this month -- before provisions on paid parental leave must come into force.

Mr Woodhouse said the bill was "in very good shape" but he was open to making further changes.

"I've had an approach from a couple of people about how it could be improved in a small way and I'm considering them."

The legislation also extends paid parental leave to a broader range of caregivers from April 1.

- NZ Herald

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