Submissions by YouthLaw Tino Rangatiratanga Taitamariki on the Employment Relations
Law Reform Bill
1. YouthLaw Tino Rangatiratanga Taitamariki (‘YouthLaw’) is a Community Law Centre, vested
under the Legal Services Act 2000, providing free legal advice and advocacy for children and
young people. We promote the interests of children and young people at local and national levels
when decisions, laws or policies affecting them are being created.
2. YouthLaw is committed to the principles contained in the United Nations Convention on the
Rights of the Child and seeks to apply them in our policy and practice.
3. Between 1 July 2002 and 30 June 2003, YouthLaw dealt with 304 employment advice queries
and disputes, the third-largest general area of work behind criminal law and education matters.
Employment law has constituted a significant proportion of our overall advice and casework for
sometime now, with a large amount of our contacts in this area being direct referrals from the
Employment Relations Service Info-Line.
4. We support the tenor of the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill (‘the Bill’) as we consider
that in its present form it will have a positive impact on the status of young workers within the
employment sector. Whilst the Employment Relations Act 2000 (‘ER Act’) signaled a shift to a
more balanced and tightly regulated industrial environment to that procured by the Employment
Contracts Act 1991, it is our experience that the problems experienced by young workers have
remained largely the same.
5. These problems faced by young workers include the continuing proliferation of verbal, casual
employment agreements (despite the provisions of the ER Act requiring otherwise). By their very
nature, these types of agreements open up room for exploitation and unfair treatment. In addition,
young workers have a general lack of awareness of unions or of their legal rights in employment.
Most young workers we talk to have not even heard of union