'A blunt instrument': Horticulture boss calls for rethink on minimum wage law

Mike Chapman, left, said the current laws were "a blunt instrument".
Mike Chapman, left, said the current laws were "a blunt instrument". Photo credit: Supplied

The industry group representing the horticulture sector is calling for a review of the Minimum Wage Act, after the Government announced the wage would increase next year.

The minimum wage will rise by $1.20 to $18.90 on April 1, 2020, while training wages will also get a boost, rising to $15.12 per hour.

But HortNZ chief executive Mike Chapman said the Minimum Wage Act needed to be looked at again to reflect the reality of living and doing business in New Zealand.

Chapman said the current laws were outdated.

"Today, the employment landscape is quite different. In the horticulture industry, several employers pay a living wage and have profit share schemes, which encourage staff loyalty and help ensure these businesses have enough staff on hand, particularly at peak times."

The present Minimum Wage Act was introduced in 1983, and has been amended a number of times since then.

Chapman described it as "a blunt instrument."

"Yes, it protects some workers but no, it does not support the kind of employer/employee relationship that is win/win for both parties that is employment reality today.

"The law needs to be reviewed to ensure it continues to protect vulnerable workers while at the same time, supporting the kind of relationship that enables businesses and their employees to thrive and grow."

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the increase would mean Kiwis would be better off.

"The new $18.90 rate will mean an extra $48 per week before tax for Kiwis who work for 40 hours on the current minimum wage," said Galloway.

According to the Government's figures, 242,000 workers will see increased wages.