Critics Worry Minimum Wage Bill Would End Sheltered
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 7, 2006
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND--Minimum wage legislation being considered this week would likely lead to the total elimination of sheltered workshops in New Zealand.
The Disabled Persons Employment Promotion (Repeal and Related Matters) Bill would require such facilities to develop formal employment agreements with workers that have disabilities and to pay them the standard minimum wage unless if they receive an exemption from the Department of Labor.
Complying with the law would likely mean the end of New Zealand's remaining sheltered workshops.
Several issues still have to be worked out in coming days, such as a way to keep workers from losing government disability, or "invalid's", benefits.
There are less than 1,000 people with disabilities in New Zealand's workshops now, compared with about 3,500 people just three years ago.
The bill, which was introduced into Parliament more than a year ago, has become a hot legislative issue. Supporters say the measure would allow people with disabilities to follow a path of inclusion. Critics, which also include many sheltered workshop operators and families, say the new rules would mean a loss of jobs for people with disabilities, and potential loss of benefits for those who would make too much money under a new scheme.
"Labour law 'would gut workshops'" (New Zealand Herald)
"Sheltered Workshops And Families Object To Minimum Wage Bill" May 3, 2005 (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
"Disabled Persons Employment Promotion (Repeal and Related Matters) Bill" (New Zealand House of Representatives)