National and Labour agree to do away with controversial zero hour contracts

After weeks of negotiations, National and Labour have come to an agreement that'll see zero hour contracts gone – and Labour is calling it a backdown by the Government.

Zero hour contract protesters. Source: 1 NEWS

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse went to Labour's Iain Lees-Galloway to make changes to the proposed legislation after the Maori Party and United Future told National they wouldn't support the legislation unless changes were made.

Zero hour contracts saw employees given no set hours but told to be available for work.

Labour had suggested changes to the Employment Standards Bill at the various parliamentary stages of the bill but the Government rejected those, until the minor parties withdrew their support.

Changes will be debated in Parliament today – but a deal done between National and Labour is expected to see most parties, unions and employers happy with the changes.

A Labour amendment will mean that people will only be told they have to be available for work if they are given set hours.

Previously, that "availability clause" would be in their contract even if no set hours were provided.

Mr Lees-Galloway told ONE News: "This switches this bill around from something that entrenches zero hour contracts to a bill that will eliminate zero hour contracts."

Labour is calling it a political win, while National continues to play it down despite admitting their stance lacked support. Source: 1 NEWS

"Now in my mind, that's a big deal, I can't speak for the minister, but I think people who have suffered under zero hour contracts will see this as a big change."

Despite that, National say the changes are only minor.

The Prime Minister says it is not unusual for parties to work together on legislation but admits it is unusual for Mr Woodhouse and Mr Lees-Galloway to work together on employment law.

"Our caucus, like all caucuses, doesn't support the exploitation of workers, but does support flexibility in the labour markets and there is a happy balance there," John Key says.

Mr Lees-Galloway says "it's a significant turnaround from the original position".

"It's a backdown from the minister but really this is a win for working people, this is a significant improvement."

The Government is under pressure to pass the bill quickly so that paid parental leave entitlements in it can come into force on April 1.