New Zealand To Toss "Outdated" Sheltered Workshop Pay
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 18, 2004
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND--People with disabilities that work in sheltered workshops will receive the same pay and employment rights as other workers under a measure introduced into New Zealand's Parliament on Tuesday.
Disabilities Issues Minister Ruth Dyson announced in a statement that the Disabled Persons Employment Promotion Bill would repeal the Disabled Persons Employment Promotion Act 1960 (DPEP) which allows sheltered workshop providers to pay less than the minimum wage -- and avoid holiday pay -- to some workers with disabilities.
"The DPEP Act has been a long-standing source of dissatisfaction," she explained. "Its repeal is a significant contribution to the government's commitment to an inclusive society."
"The Act does not comply with domestic and international human rights legislation as it embodies outdated and inappropriate concepts about the ability, potential and rights of people with disabilities."
Dyson said that a transition period would allow sheltered workshops to adjust to the new wages, and added that some had already started that process.
Workshops will continue to receive government assistance in developing their businesses to support employment, along with government funding.
"What will change is the standard of the employment environment in which people with disabilities work," she said.
Sheltered workshop providers have claimed that paying "sub-minimum" wages allows them to employ workers who would not be hired elsewhere.
Critics have compared sheltered workshops to "sweat-shops" that segregate and isolate people and devalue them by paying less than what they are worth.