Why Hareta Hipango’s Bill makes sense

Clayton Mitchell
New Zealand First MP

New Zealanders are extremely generous with their time, effort and financial support for not-for-profit organisations. It makes me proud to know that nearly 1.4 million Kiwis volunteer in their community each year in a range of charities and not-for-profit organisations.

Mucking in and helping out is part of who we are and what we do.

It is also important to know that there are over 114,000 not-for-profit/volunteer organisations around New Zealand who perform a range of valuable services including firefighting, surf lifesaving, sports coaching, support services and helping out at shelters and food banks to name but a few.

In some of these volunteer organisations, they may have someone who is paid to manage infrastructure, procurement or to fulfil administration requirements. In this scenario an unintended consequence within the Health and Safety at Work Act occurs, inadvertently.

Essentially, what happens to the person who is being remunerated in the event of a serious accident causing injury or death is the paid person becomes a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), and can be legally culpable and financially liable for that accident causing serious harm or death.

I don’t believe this was the intent of the original Bill when it was drafted and implemented during the last government, and it was an issue that New Zealand First raised previously.

It is now good to see Hareta Hipango’s introduced Bill to amend this problem, by repealing this part of the Act which New Zealand First has supported through to Select Committee.

The Health and Safety at Work (Volunteer Associations) Amendment Bill will correct this unintended consequence by removing the paid person’s culpability as a PCBU and keep their status the same as all other volunteers in the voluntary sector, providing paid hours do not exceed 100 hours per week collectively within the organisation.

Where the total amount of paid hours is under 100 hours per week, the persons paid will not be considered a PCBU.

This will not diminish the importance of Health and Safety for voluntary organisations, but it will remove the undue concern of liability for small voluntary organisations.

New Zealand First sees this as a common sense approach and has supported the Bill through its first reading. The Bill is currently before the Select Committee, and I encourage you to make submissions at: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/make-a-submission/


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