Volunteer associations to be excluded from Health and Safety at Work Act duties

A new Bill has been introduced to the House that intends to amend the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (Act) to allow volunteer associations to be excluded from the definition of a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) where the volunteer association employs one or more persons for less than 100 hours per week. Under the current provisions, volunteer associations are considered PCBU’s if they employ any person to carry out work for the organisation.  The purpose of the Health and Safety at Work (Volunteer Associations) Amendment Bill (Bill) is to recognise the important role that the volunteer sector and that these associations play in New Zealand, and that some employ a limited number of employees to perform very specific tasks in order for the association to operate.

The risk of penalties under the Act for breach of duty as a PCBU could result in volunteer associations, which often rely heavily on donations and goodwill, becoming unviable. Therefore, the Bill aims to protect small volunteer associations from penalties under the HSW Act to ensure the continued existence.

While it is recognised that health and safety is fundamental in all organisations, the Bill relies on other legal principles to ensure the health and safety of employees and volunteers, including negligence. The Bill was met with some opposition when it was introduced into the House, including that it was “poorly drafted and actually misses the point”. It is likely that we will see further amendments to this Bill before it is enacted.

Workplace Law team

If you have any queries in respect of the above, or any other Workplace Law issues, please contact a member of Lane Neave’s Workplace Law team:

Employment: Andrew Shaw, Fiona McMillan, Gwen DrewittMaria Green,  Hannah Martin, Joseph HarropHolly StruckmanAlex Beal, Giuliana Petronelli, Abby Shieh
Immigration: Mark Williams, Rachael Mason, Daniel Kruger, Nicky Robertson, Julia StrickettKen Huang, Mary Zhou, Shi Sheng Cai (Shoosh)Sarah Kirkwood, Janeske SchutteLingbo Yu
ACC: Andrew Shaw
Health and Safety: Andrew ShawFiona McMillan

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