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Letter: Stop ripping off your workers

Friday 18 August 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


Letter: Stop ripping off your workers

Dear Editor, Friday, August 4, was a Public Holiday for our 58th Constitution Day celebrations. Everyone was legally entitled to enjoy a day off as a legal Public Holiday.

If your Employer told you or needs you to work then you are entitled to double pay. And another point, if anyone works over their normal 40 hours, we are all entitled to time and a half of the normal rate of pay.

But I know of some local businesses who are not following our Employment law. And especially with our poor international workers, who are not receiving their full legal Public Holiday and Wage entitlements. This no payment of legal entitlements is not uncommon here, as many are not getting paid for hours at work over their 40 hours under their Contract. Many work consistently

from 8am to well past 4pm every day, extra work but no extra pay. This is illegal, immoral and wrong.

According to our Employment Relations Act 2012 Section 38 (1) A full time employee (working 40 hours per week) is entitled to a holiday with pay at their ordinary rate if the Public Holiday falls on a day that they are ordinarily required to work. So as per section 38(2)(ii) should the full-time employee work on the Public Holiday then they are entitled to double their ordinary rate of pay. Section 31 states that should an employee work in excess of 40 hours, during the week or weekend, they should be paid time and a half of their normal rate of pay.

So if you worked 8 hours on that Public Holiday on Friday, and say your pay is $10 an hour then you should get $160 ($80 for the 8 hour day and an extra $80 Public Holiday pay). If you work 10 hours over-time in a week, you are legally entitled to $15 x 10 hours = $150. And all workers are entitled to 5 days of paid sick leave and 10 days of paid holiday leave each year of work. No arguments as this is in our law as a minimum Employment Contract requirement.

The sad reality is that our valued foreign workers are sometimes too shy or scared to assert their legal rights or make a complaint to the Labour Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs – for fear of losing their jobs and being sent back overseas. This holding our foreign workers to ransom (as they better not say anything) is wrong and does not reflect us as Cook Islanders.

The Bible tells us instead to “look after” the foreigners within our nation. Not rip them off. We employ foreign workers in our Tourism business and they (like our local staff) all get paid Over-time and Holiday rates, like when they all needed to work on Friday, August 4. And with our Tourism here now bounced back, there is no excuse to anyone here in the Cook Islands not to pay the full legal rates of pay and entitlements to our employees – local or international.

Te akama. To our local businesses and families, this mis-treatment of employees is terrible, illegal, immoral and must stop.



(Name and address supplied)