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Unions seek urgent law change on holiday pay botch-up to prevent Kiwis losing 'up to $1m a day'


Unions want the Government to introduce an urgent law change this week to ensure workers don't miss out on any unpaid holiday pay while problems with the Holiday's Act are addressed.

Unions have asked the Government for an urgent law change this week to ensure workers don't continue to lose money. Source: 1 NEWS

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment estimates that hundreds of thousands of workers could have been unpaid between $300 million and $2.3 billion over the past six years. 

The problems with holiday pay payments stem back to interpretation issues with the 2003 Holiday's Act. 

However a statute of limitations means workers can only claim holiday pay arrears going back six years and employers only need to hold leave records for six years. 

The Council of Trade Unions says because of that statute of limitations New Zealanders are collectively losing up to $1 million a day in back pay as their right to it expires.  

It says that's why it is proposing that the limit is urgently suspended so that workers don't continue to lose money while the problem is fixed.

To do this, the CTU has presented a Bill to the Minister of Employment that stops the clock on the statute of limitations. 

It's asked that this be passed under urgency. 

The CTU says the Holiday's Act botch up is too big to try to fix on a case-by-case basis and it needs Government to work with unions and business to find high level solutions.

Business New Zealand, however, is wary about the move, saying its needs to consider the proposal and make sure it is narrow enough not to interfere with the statute of limitations in other areas. 

The Government says getting rid of the statute of limitations isn't the way to go. 

Prime Minister John Key says the Government wants a solution that doesn't involve legislation, so he's ruled out any kind of urgent law change.