Make good work the norm
The RACP calls on the New Zealand government to:
Promote the Living Wage
Promote the Living Wage to employers, businesses and organisations as an evidence-informed initiative to support the health and wellness of employees and their whānau.
Recognise the workplace as a venue for influencing healthcare systems
- Encourage employers to introduce:
- wellness programmes which support health and wellbeing (including mental health)
- access to services such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)
- health and safety officers for all workplaces (regardless of size) and ensure that these officers receive training
- cultural safety policies which support diversity in the workplace
- leave for survivors of domestic violence.
- Develop policy to increase health literacy.
Increase support for people not in work
Support people who are not in work or training to access work and training opportunities, and find appropriate work.
“I work doing two cleaning shifts a day. I clean at a school from 4pm to 6.30pm and then at an office building in town from 8pm to 11pm.”
Tania’s work hours are not always guaranteed, and she stated it was impossible to make plans or savings, which contributes to her stress, anxiety and feelings of insecurity. She works during the evenings, and talks about how she wishes she could spend this time with her children and family.
“I got stood down at school for fighting and having drugs at school a couple of times and mum was pretty mad. I hated school anyway, so when I had to go back I started wagging a bit more and then I just stopped going. Mum stopped asking about school – she’s asleep or working late shift so we don’t talk much. Sometimes I do some labouring if my mate’s uncle can get us a job, but that hasn’t happened for a while.”
Matthew is 15 and not in education, employment or training (NEET). Matthew has been stood down from school for violence and having drugs on him. He is disengaged from school and is often truant. When he began secondary school, his reading age was assessed as being at around that of a nine year-old – well below the average for his age group. A dean at Matthew’s school referred him to a drug and alcohol counsellor at a local youth clinic, who he met with regularly. Matthew’s mother noticed a positive change in his behaviour, and was pleased he had access to counselling. The youth clinic was unable to secure operational funding and was forced to close. While clients were able to transfer to a clinic in the next town, Matthew’s counsellor would not be on staff, which caused Matthew disappointment and feelings of being let down by the health system.
“When the boss said they were moving production offshore, I got a sinking feeling that didn’t go away. We got a redundancy, but it wasn’t much, and I had been with the company for a long time. Part of going on the dole is going to meetings that look at your skills and capabilities – I left school pretty much as soon as I could and went to work at the factory with the rest of the boys, so I don’t think I could do much good in an office, and there aren’t many factories here anymore.”
Brian is a 48 year old male with a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). He is a heavy smoker of more than 30 years. Brian was made redundant from his position as a machinist in a factory when the company decided to shift to a production facility based overseas. He has been out of fulltime employment since his redundancy (two years). His COPD symptoms have worsened since the redundancy, and he is experiencing symptoms of depression.
Key facts: Work in New Zealand
- Paying a living wage has health benefits for dependent children, including physical and mental health and wellbeing.
- A job paying a living wage boosts living standards and provides a way out of poverty.
- 90,000 young people are not in education, employment or training.
- Long-term unemployment risks negative health outcomes and greater mortality.
- 10 per cent of the labour force are not in work due to sickness, injury or disability.
- Workplaces which promote the health and wellbeing of workers are more productive.
- ‘Good work’ improves general health and wellbeing and reduces psychological distress.