12 Nov 2012

Improved rights for Cook Islands workers in the offing

4:11 pm on 12 November 2012

Groundbreaking changes are being made to the rights of workers within the Cook Islands.

The government is proposing the changes in its Employment Relations Bill.

The bill is to be tabled when Parliament convenes on December the 3rd and includes protections around maternity leave, discrimination and termination.

The Secretary of Internal Affairs, Bredina Drollet, says the bill is a significant advance for women in the workplace, compared with other Pacific island countries.

She says she thinks it is the first time government-funded paid maternity leave has been provided.

Under the proposed changes new mothers employed in the private sector will receive a weekly payment for six weeks after the birth of their child.

The amount paid will be equivalent to the minimum wage.

Employers will be prohibited from pressuring employees into working on their chosen day of worship.

There will also be tighter rules on terminating workers.

The act will also lay down when overtime wage payments apply.