Taxpayers Union blows the whistle on a nice little caper whereby MPs can circumvent NZ’s labour laws

It looks like the Taxpayers’ Union – an outfit with aims generally supported by the Member for Eketahuna North – might have rumbled to a bit of carry-on he will confess to having exploited.

It’s a wheeze that resulted in MPs chewing through more than $65,000 per month on payouts to avoid messy employment grievances.

Jordan Williams, the union’s Executive Director, exposed the costs of the practice in a media release today, obviously after doing a bit of snooping by brandishing the Official Information Act.

“While every other New Zealander must follow the letter of employment law, MPs are often ignoring it and having the poor taxpayer fund the resulting payouts,” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union.

“Many of the payouts result from MPs sacking staff on the spot. It appears that parliamentary officials offer generous settlements to avoid cases going to the Employment Relations Authority.”

Jordan tells us his organisation is aware of two examples of instant dismissal due to a minor party leader being unwilling to hear his employee’s response to minor allegations made by a colleague.

He reckons the former employees were offered confidential payouts from Parliamentary Service well above what the individuals were advised they would be awarded in court.

His statement goes on:

“Parliamentary Service is effectively buying the silence of former staff, some of whom have been treated appallingly by MPs.

“Parliamentary Service contracts include an instant dismissal clause when there is an ‘irreconcilable breakdown’ of the relationship with the employee’s MP. The legality of the clause is questionable and it appears that the Parliamentary Service offers these generous settlements to avoid them being challenged.”

The six months of severance pay figures total $395,941 and show the average payout is approximately $20,000.

Ministerial Services are doing the decent thing by refusing to provide the equivalent information for ministerial staff. Good on them, although Jordan has lodged a complaint regarding this request with the Ombudsman.

The stuff he got from Parliamentary Services shows:

Severance payments made to former parliamentary (non-ministerial) staff in the 6 months ending 13 November 2013.
Support staff working directly to Members of Parliament: 11 payments totalling $122,935

Other Parliamentary Staff: 9 payments totalling $273,006.

Dunno what Jordan thinks a long-serving, hard-working MP should do when he (or she) gets lumbered with inappropriate staff.

Alf let his guard down not too long ago and hired a sheila who passed muster in the superstructure department but turned out to have Greenie inclinations.

When this bint kept banging on about the need to promote the welfare of bloody whales and oppose oil exploration, becoming increasingly shrill just before he popped off to caucus meetings…

Well, something had to give. She was shown the door and, yes, the taxpayer helped facilitate a departure without fuss. It was money well spent.

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