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Workers’ rights key consideration for consumers

Knowing a business treats its workers fairly, “always or most of the time” is a key factor for consumers when deciding where to shop, with 50 per cent of consumers reporting it informs their decision.

This figure, from the 2020 New Zealand Consumer Survey (NZCS), released in May, has been trending upwards since 2016 (43 per cent), and 2018 (48 per cent).

Tania Donaldson, Manager Employer Systems and Assurance at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, says the finding shows it is becoming increasingly important for businesses to ensure they are meeting the legal employment standards, and have the appropriate systems in place to ensure worker wellbeing.

"A growing number of New Zealanders report they factor worker wellbeing into their decisions about where they buy and who they buy from, and it’s important for businesses to meet these expectations," Ms Donaldson says.

"Treating your workers well ultimately helps your brand, your business’s reputation, and your bottom line."

The survey also found that the following groups are more likely than average (50 per cent) to report that knowing a business treats its workers fairly (always/most of the time) affects their decision on where to purchase: 

  • Those looking after family (68 per cent) 
  • Those living in Wellington (58 per cent) 
  • Those with household incomes above $150,000 (58 per cent)
  • Those with a degree or higher qualification (55 per cent).

Ms Donaldson says businesses should also be identifying and taking steps to mitigate labour rights issues not only in their own businesses, but also throughout their supply chains and wider commercial networks.

"These considerations are important for everyone who employs or contracts people in their businesses, including employers, franchisors, investors and procurers, businesses providing labour on hire, directors, recruiters and work brokers."

"These steps should be taken for reasons including brand protection, meeting customer expectations, and managing trade and investment risk, as well as for legal compliance."

These steps can include creating a policy or code of conduct for your business, mapping your supply chain, seeking commitment to a supplier code of conduct/ethical sourcing policy, conducting a risk assessment across your own organisation and the organisations you engage with, and identifying actions you can take to reduce any risks identified. 

Ethical and sustainable work practices

New Zealand consumer surveys — Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (external link)