Media Releases

Parent-Teacher Interview Leave Bill discriminatory and should be ditched

1 September 2021.

Appearing before Select Committee today, Retail NZ said the proposed Holidays (Parent-Teacher Interview Leave) Amendment Bill should be ditched because it would discriminate against some employees based on their family status, and impose significant costs on employers. 

“This private members bill is unnecessary and creates a dangerous precedent of discriminatory legislation and practices in the workplace. Whilst we support the important role parent teacher interviews have in a child’s educational achievement schools already offer a range of flexible options for parents to attend parent-teacher interviews – from morning, afternoon, evening, and online calls. Special leave entitlements are not required to enable parents to participate in their children’s schooling, and especially not at the cost of their employer, Greg Harford, Retail NZ’s Chief Executive says. 

“The vast majority of retail employers provide arrangements to accommodate parents to attend parent teacher interviews. From flexible working provisions, use of annual leave, swapping shifts or work hours with others to be available to attend. Whilst the Bill proposes to solve a problem within the casualised workforce, a casual worker has more flexibility to accept or not accept work than the full time or part time workforce. The assumption that perceived issues of limitations to leave in the casualised workforce cannot be extended to the rest of the workforce who have other leave provisions and flexibility allowances.”

“Providing additional leave entitlements to parents, and not to others would be discriminatory and is illegal under the Human Rights Act 1993. We caution the committee in recommending a Bill to second reading and recommending the creation of a discriminatory law that would create unfairness and equity issues with employees who do not have children.”

“Although no costings have been provided by the proponent of the bill, it is possible to estimate the economic impact.  While the cost of four hours per parent per child may sounds small, it really adds up.  In 2020, there were 826,347 students at school.  This would translate into 6,610,776 working hours that were lost due to the proposal.  This is the equivalent of 3,166 full time workers being lost to the economy.”

“The retail sector is already facing significant increases in employment costs due to the increase the Minimum Wage, increased sick leave entitlements, and the upcoming additional public holiday. All this is on top of the economic carnage being caused by a further round of COVID-19.  It is not right to expect employers to foot the bill for parent-teacher interview leave, and Retail NZ has asked the Education and Workforce Committee to ditch the bill.  In the event that the bill proceeds, Retail NZ says the costs should fall on the Government, not the employer.”

Click here to see the submission of Retail NZ to the Education and Workforce Select Committee on the proposed Holidays (Parent-Teacher Interview Leave) Amendment Bill.

For further information, please contact:
Greg Harford
Chief Executive, Retail NZ
[email protected]
027 243 2842

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