Employment developments impacting Athletes and Postal Workers

This last week has seen two important employment law announcements, with The Athletes’ Cooperative Incorporated having a significant win in the Employment Relations Authority, and New Zealand Post announcing their plan to replace their employees with contractors.

NZ Post's recent decision follows on from their announcement last year, where they planned to cut 750 delivery roles in the next five years in response to declining mail volume. It now plans to shift the majority of delivery work to contractors.

Separately, The Athletes’ Cooperative Incorporated (largely made up of elite cyclists and rowers) had a significant win against High Performance Sport NZ (HPSNZ), in which the Authority member found that HPSNZ was obligated to engage in good-faith collective bargaining with the Athletes’ cooperative. HPSNZ previously rejected attempts to negotiate a collective agreement, largely on the basis that it considered that the athletes were not employees.

Step towards better rights and welfare for athletes

The Authority found that for initiating collective bargaining the union are not required to have members currently employed with the proposed employer under section 32 of the Employment Relations Act 2000. This means regardless of whether HPSNZ are currently employing any of the athletes’ within The Athletes’ Cooperative they are obliged to engage in good faith negotiations for collective bargaining.

This Authority decision is significant especially in the sporting industry where there are differences between athletes’ working arrangements within the industry, including pay inconsistency. While, there is a possibility that HPSNZ will seek to overturn this decision on appeal, this decision retains the potential to be the start of a shift in athletes’ employment rights.

For independent employment advice, contact a member of Govett Quilliam's Employment Law Team today.

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