While many New Zealanders can’t conceive of workers being treated poorly, it is becoming clearer that exploitation is happening in New Zealand. Employers are being held to account for exploitative conduct that ranges from wage underpayments and unlawful deductions, to forced labour and human trafficking.
As a result, there are increasing demands from stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors and consumers, for businesses to show ethical and sustainable work practices in relation to how workers are treated within their organisation and the organisations they engage with. For example, through their supply chains.
These expectations apply to all parties who employ or contract people in their businesses. These include, but are not limited to, organisations acting as employers, franchisors, investors and procurers, businesses providing labour on hire, individuals acting as directors or managers, and work brokers.
What it means for you and your business
It is essential for you to understand and apply ethical and sustainable work practices. Whether you employ your own staff, work in procurement, are a franchisor, place workers in other businesses, or provide financial investment to other businesses, cases of non-compliance in your business and/or your business networks can expose and damage your organisation’s reputation and branding.
This could include:
- enforcement action such as financial penalties and being prevented from supporting visa applications from migrant workers for a time
- harming the quality of products and services that you provide
- damaging the goodwill and loyalty you have earned from your customers
- negatively impacting on demand for your goods and services
- not being able to sell your products and services to resellers or other businesses (eg government, retailers or wholesalers)
- reducing your revenue, profit, financial viability, and the market value of your business
- affecting your ability to retain quality staff
- affecting the health, safety, productivity and wellbeing of workers.
It is essential you have systems and processes in place to identify and eliminate worker exploitation in your business and the businesses you engage with. For example, through your supply chain. This will help ensure you can meet your stakeholders’ expectations and reduce the risks to the viability of your business.
Employment New Zealand has developed resources to help you consider the requirements to be a viable and sustainable business.
What are ethical and sustainable work practices
Businesses that don’t meet their legal obligations to employees or that don’t understand and apply ethical and sustainable work practices are risking their future financial viability.
Demand for ethical and sustainable work practices
In New Zealand and across the world, demand is increasing for businesses to look after the wellbeing of their employees.
End-to-end assurance systems and processes
End-to-end assurance processes that focus on improving conditions for workers, and future-proofing the ability of New Zealand businesses to trade.
Employer's approach to assuring ethical and sustainable work practices
Employers are responsible for ensuring their staff are treated fairly and provided with their employment rights.
Procurer's approach to assuring ethical and sustainable work practices in supply chains
Procurers play a key role in assuring that workers within supply chains are treated fairly, including compliance with employment standards.
Franchisor's approach to assuring ethical and sustainable work practices
To reduce brand reputation risk, a franchisor should implement and ensure their franchisees operate using ethical and sustainable work practices.
Recruiters and employment brokers approach to assuring ethical and sustainable work practices
Recruitment and employment brokering agencies, and HR recruitment personnel have a duty of care to ensure that their clients have ethical and sustainable work practices.
Director’s approach to assuring ethical and sustainable work practices
Directors play a key role in assuring that workers within their organisation and supply chains are treated fairly, including compliance with employment legislation.
Investor’s approach to assuring ethical and sustainable work practices
Investors need to know and understand about responsible investments, and the impact their investment decisions can have on ethical and sustainable work practices.