Executive Summary

Stable work with regular and decent pay has been at the heart of New Zealanders leading secure and healthy lives. In the face of rapid technological change, the disappearance of particular jobs, the declining value of wages and the rise of part-time and casual work, there is now significant insecurity for many people.

In contrast, other workers are enjoying the flexibility of new working arrangements, contracting and being their own boss.

While “worker” and “employee” were once synonymous, we now also have the self-employed, small businesses, contractors, at-home carers and volunteers. On top of this, we face an ageing population and workforce. This all creates insecurity which impacts people’s incomes, health, family and community. These impacts are felt more keenly by some people such, as women, youth, Maori, Pasifika and older workers.

This paper focuses on three different kinds of security relating to work: job security, employment security and income security. It looks at how to balance flexibility and security and how different groups in the population are affected.

Many occupations are losing job security but for those whose skills are in demand, there is often more work just around the corner. We need to look at support for the self-employed and those on short-term contracts, new types of organisations like cooperatives, “flexicurity” models, eliminating exploitation in the guise of flexibility, supporting those in flexible work arrangements and supporting collective bargaining.

Income insecurity is nothing new but it is growing. A new approach is required to make sure everyone has a reliable and liveable income. The foundation of income security is fair wages but we must also look at the recognition of voluntary work, benefit compliance requirements, how the tax system supports this and new models of income support. Internationally the idea of a Universal Basic Income has been raised but is as yet unproven.

Addressing the effects of job insecurity on health and family, and ensuring these burdens are spread fairly will be challenging. There should be incentives to take on younger workers and work experience in the provinces for youth. Dealing with the ageing population must include eliminating discrimination against older workers, providing more retraining opportunities, incentives to continue working later in life, and better managing our aged care workforce and family carers. We also need better support for the increasing number of women working. And importantly, we must reduce current inequalities.

Key Questions

  • What do you see as the opportunities for flexible and secure work?

  • What policy solutions should Labour be looking at to balance these?

  • How do we address the challenges of increasing insecurity?

  • How can we better recognise what has traditionally been seen as voluntary or unpaid work?


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