A workers union has brought a claim against an employer to the Employment Relations Authority for a declaration that the workers are in fact employees.

The union is claiming that the workers are subject to employee rights and that these are currently not being met by the agency, High Performance Sport NZ.

The union, known as the Athletes Cooperative, is said to be seeking better operating conditions and more rights and protections for employees in need, as well as employee benefits.

These claims are in response to incidents that have arisen recently where workers have spoken out against the agency, citing numerous instances of alleged bad faith operation, and lack of care for their employees.

Reportedly, the agency stated that they could not enter into employment negotiations with the union, as the workers involved are contractors, not employees. This led to the claim being brought to the Authority.

There is a significant difference between contractors and employees.

Employees work for an employer under a contract of services (commonly known as an employment agreement) in return for reward.

A contractor is somebody who is self-employed. They are engaged by a principal to perform work.

If the Authority decides that the workers are in fact employees, they will be entitled to all the benefits that come with employee status. These include the right to at least minimum wage, annual holidays and written employment agreements. An employee is also entitled to be paid sick leave.

A contractor is not entitled to these benefits, as they are self-employed. A contractor is also not entitled to bring a claim to the Authority, as this right is reserved for employees.

If there is confusion around your employment status, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Alan Knowsley & Matthew Binnie

Litigation Team