Workplace Bill change extends private prosecutions

  • 25/08/2015
Workplace Bill change extends private prosecutions

There will be more time for private prosecutions to be laid against companies over workplace accidents under a change Parliament has made to the Government's Health and Safety Reform Bill.

The Bill states that Worksafe New Zealand has 12 months to bring a prosecution following an accident, and can apply for a further 12 months.

If it decides not to prosecute after the first 12 months, a private prosecution can be taken during the following 12 months.

But if it asks for the extension, and doesn't prosecute after two years, there's no time for anyone else to do so after that.

Labour wanted a six-month extension after the two-year period, and the Maori Party wanted three months.

Labour's amendment was defeated 63-58.

The Government accepted the Maori Party's amendment and it was passed unanimously.

Labour's Iain Lees-Galloway, who had wanted six months, said private prosecutions were "incredibly important".

He thought six months was better than three, but supported the Maori Party amendment.

Mr Lees-Galloway said the Council of Trade Unions recently laid a private prosecution against a company after Worksafe NZ decided not to, and won the case.

"When Worksafe makes the wrong call, there must be the opportunity for the CTU or anyone else to take out a private prosecution," he said.