Submission. Ministerial Advisory Group on the Holidays Act. Review of the Holidays Act 2003

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1 21 August 2009 Submission to the Ministerial Advisory Group on the Holidays Act on the Review of the Holidays Act 2003 In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar obligation toward their employees. In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church's holy days as legal holidays. Catechism of the Catholic Church (# ) Summary of main points: The right to rest has ancient roots based in the Sabbath traditions of a collective break from work for religious practice, family time and rest. The Catholic Church continues to seek holidays which recognise the value of collective opportunities for rest, celebration and connection with families and wider community. We do not accept this is merely a matter for individual preference or the convenience of particular commercial activities. Easter, Christmas and ANZAC day are the remaining collective holidays which take place mostly in the absence of shop trading. These days have gained significance for family and community rest time well beyond their religious observance. The Catholic Church recognises legal holidays for religious feast days as being a matter of religious liberty and the common good of all. We therefore strongly support and recognise the right of religious groups of all faiths to seek ways of improving their ability to take time off for religious observance and holy days. We do not believe that changing entitlements to leave at Easter and Christmas is the best way of achieving this. We would like the Review Group to find ways of doing this which do not affect current holidays provided for at Easter and Christmas. Introduction 1. Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is the Catholic agency for Justice, Peace and Development. We are mandated by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference to work for the elimination of poverty and injustice through development and aid work internationally, and through advocacy and education for social justice in New Zealand.

2 2. The basis of our position on this issue is: Catholic social teaching on the rights of workers, particularly the right to rest; The experience of our Catholic community in parish life, social service agencies and work with families, particularly in relation to the difficulties incurred by family and community life through a lack of work/life balance; The consistent rejection by a broad coalition of Church, union and community organisations against any further loss of collective rest through further liberalisation of shop trading hours or reduced protections for workers to take leave at Easter and Christmas. 3. We are disappointed that only a year after we most recently replied in depth to the Department of Labour review of Easter Trading and Holidays Legislation, we are yet again asked for comment on very similar issues. 4. There seems to be some conflict between the aims of the Review, as reflected in the terms of reference, in that the guiding principles state that current core holidays and leave entitlements are maintained and options to decrease their entitlements are not recommended while at the same time, the treatment of public holidays and the interface between shop trading on Easter Sunday and the Holidays Act are among policy options being assessed. 5. For many New Zealanders the ability to take leave at Christmas and Easter is a core aspect of holiday and leave entitlements. When Sunday trading was permitted in 1990, Churches were assured of the continuing protection of Easter, Christmas and ANZAC day as remaining collective holidays which would continue to provide opportunities for families and communities to gather. Despite this, we are constantly required to defend these days. 6. These days have gained significance for family and community rest time well beyond their religious observance. Many families with no interest in attending Church services also plan their family gatherings, holidays and special occasions around these days because they know that these are times that other family and community members are also most likely to be available. 7. Many low-income New Zealanders have no real choice about their hours of work, in stark contrast to the increasing leisure choices of many better-off New Zealanders. This review needs to remain sharply focused on the needs of the most vulnerable members of the New Zealand workforce, and not those with the greatest number of choices. 8. The Catholic Church recognises legal holidays for religious feast days as being a matter of religious liberty and the common good of all. We therefore strongly support and recognise the right of religious groups of all faiths to seek ways of improving their ability to take time off for religious observance and holy days. We do not believe that changing or removing current public holiday entitlements, particularly around Christmas and Easter, is the best way of achieving this. If these days are not protected, we do not think it likely that other religious groups will find that their particular needs are recognised either. 9. As a starting point, we repeat the summary of Catholic social teaching on the right to rest, which we prepared as part of our submission to last year s review of Easter trading and holidays:

3 Catholic social teaching on the right to rest 10. Modern Catholic social teaching is generally dated from the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, written in 1891 in response to the dreadful working conditions of many people in Europe at that time. It recognised the rights of workers to join unions, and recognised that human dignity requires that people be not just treated as tools of their work, but must have their human needs and rights taken into account. 11. Pope Leo said it was important to save working people from being used simply as instruments for money making: It is neither just nor human so to grind people down with excessive labour as to stupefy their minds and wear out their bodies. 1 He said rest from work and labour on Sundays and certain holy days was an obligation on both workers and employers. 12. The Second Vatican Council in 1964 emphasised that the process of working life must be adapted to the needs of the person and their way of life. Applying their time and strength to their employment with a due sense of responsibility, they should also all enjoy sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social and religious life. 2 There was also a warning against structuring work to the detriment of wider human needs. It happens too often, however, even in our days, that workers are reduced to the level of being slaves to their own work Pope John Paul II s first social encyclical Laborem Exercens in 1981 was devoted to the question of human work. He laid out key principles, in particular that Work is for the worker, not the worker for work 4 which intends that decisions about work should be made from the point of view of considering first the needs of the person who works, above any other considerations to do with capital or production. He also specified rest as a working right: Another sector [of social benefits] is the sector associated with the right to rest. In the first place, this involves of regular weekly rest comprising at least Sunday, and also a longer period of rest Ten years later, in his encyclical Centesimus Annus in 1991 which celebrated the hundredth anniversary of Rerum Novarum, Pope John Paul II specifically addressed the question of why Pope Leo XIII had considered rest for religious observance a workers right, rather than just an individual preoccupation: The Pope wishes to proclaim this right within the context of the other rights and duties of workers, notwithstanding the general opinion, even in his day, that such questions pertained exclusively to an individual s private life. He affirms the need for Sunday rest so people may turn their thoughts to heavenly things No one can take away this human right and consequently, the State must guarantee to the worker the exercise of this freedom The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that the Sabbath days were instituted as an opportunity for rest, especially for the poorest members of the community: If God rested and was refreshed on the seventh day, [people] too ought to rest and should let others, especially 1 Pope Leo XIII: Rerum Novarum (41), Vatican II: Gaudium et Spes (67), Vatican II: Gaudium et Spes (67), Pope John Paul II: Laborem Exercens (6), Pope John Paul II: Laborem Exercens (19), Pope John Paul II: Centesimus Annus (9), 1991

4 the poor. The Sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money The Catechism also asks people who do have the opportunity for rest to remember the needs and rights of those who do not have that opportunity, particularly when it results from economic disadvantage: Those who do not have leisure should be mindful of their brethren who have the same needs and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of poverty The Catechism asks Christians in particular, but also employers and public authorities, to avoid taking action that will prevent others from celebrating Sunday worship and other holy days. Sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort. Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord s Day In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar obligation toward their employees. In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek a recognition of Sundays and the Church s holy days as legal holidays Caritas outlined more recent and local statements by members of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, particularly in relation to Easter Sunday trading, to the Commerce Select Committee last year. To restate briefly, the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference opposed the lifting of Sunday trading restrictions in 1990, with Cardinal Thomas Williams commenting after the liberalisation of Sunday trading: The issue is far from a religious one. If profit is to take priority over people, the outcome will be a society less human and more stressful for individuals, families and the community at large. 19. When facing 1997 proposals to liberalise Easter Sunday Trading, Bishop Peter Cullinane commented on behalf of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference: We believe that our society is starting to ignore the deep truth that people need regular times away from work in order to sustain them physically and spiritually. Individuals and communities are helped by having days in the year which are like a communal pause, allowing them to spend time with their families. And for Christians, Easter Sunday is the most important feast of the year. 20. In 2007, the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference also issued a statement on Easter Sunday trading. It has been rightly said that liberalisation for some creates shackles for others. We believe that if restricted trading on Easter Sunday (and Good Friday) is lifted, workers will not be adequately protected from pressures to work on that day, thereby depriving them of opportunity of spending quality time, not just for worship if they are Christian, but with their families, and in sporting, cultural and leisure activities Caritas also pointed out in 2007 in our submission to the Commerce Select Committee that liberalising Easter Sunday trading ran counter to the government s objectives in improving 7 Catechism of the Catholic Church (2172) 8 Catechism of the Catholic Church (2186) 9 Catechism of the Catholic Church ( ) 10 New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference: Statement on Easter trading, 2007

5 work/life balance. The experience of Catholic parish communities is that increasingly for many people, work is among activities that intrude on time which used to be reserved for worship, family and community activities. For some members of our society, that is a matter of choice, but reflects poorly on our society s work/life balance [But] many low-paid workers have no real choice about the hours they work. Whether they are forced by employer pressure or financial necessity into working on Sundays, the outcome is the same Easter Sunday is naturally not only a Catholic celebration. We support our colleagues in the Anglican Church, whose Bishops commented: The market has permeated every aspect of our lives. The question we are faced with, and which Easter Sunday reminds us of, is whether the market ultimately defines who we are, or whether there is any human value that can exist outside the market values like care for others, compassion for those in need, justice, integrity, hope. Are we simply consumers, running like hamsters in a wheel in a marketplace, or is there more to us than this?...the proposed [Easter Sunday trading] legislation is not about creating a freedom that did not previously exist. It s about trading in an existing freedom - to have one day of the year free from commercial obligations - to serve the market An important ecumenical statement on the relationship between faith and economics is the Oxford Declaration on Christian Faith and Economics, prepared by a conference of over 100 evangelical theologians and practitioners in They contribute additional insights about our workaholic society: The Biblical concept of rest should not be confused with the modern concept of leisure Those who cannot meet their basic needs without having to forego leisure can be encouraged with the reality of their right to rest. Modern workaholics whose infatuation with status relegates leisure to insignificance must be challenged by the liberating obligation to rest. What does it profit them to gain the whole world if they forfeit their life. 13 Comments on the Review questions: 24. We have no difficulties with the goals of making the current entitlements easier to understand, and reducing compliance costs, so long as there is no further reduction in leave entitlements as a result of these changes. 25. There will be many organisations that are well placed to answer a number of the questions in this review, but we particularly wish to comment on matters to do with the celebration of holy days at Christmas and Easter. For this reason, we will limit our response in this submission to questions 6-8 and Questions 6-8: Allowing all employers and employees to agree to transfer the observance of a public holiday listed in the act to another day. 26. As previously stated, the Catholic Church recognises legal holidays for religious feast days as being a matter of religious liberty and the common good of all. We therefore strongly support and recognise the right of religious groups of all faiths to seek ways of improving their ability to take time off for religious observance and holy days. We do not believe that changing or 11 Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand: Submission to the Commerce Select Committee on Easter Sunday trading bills, Anglican Archbishops of Aotearoa New Zealand: Statement on Easter Sunday Trading, Oxford Declaration on Faith and Economics (27, 31), 1990

6 removing current public holiday entitlements, particularly around Christmas and Easter, is the best way of achieving this. If these days are not protected, we do not think it likely that other religious groups will find that their particular needs are recognised either. 27. We also do not believe the setting up of Good Friday or the final day of Ramadan as alternatives to each other is a helpful or practical way to help New Zealanders understand the increasing religious diversity of New Zealand society and workplaces. 28. We believe the proposal to swap public holidays for other days is driven by secular rather than faith based reasons, despite the choice of religious examples to illustrate this. The example appears to pit different religious traditions against each other, making it difficult for Christians to defend the retention of Good Friday as a public holiday, for fear of seeming intolerant of other religious traditions. 29. We would suggest the question be reconsidered from the perspective of suggesting that, for example, ANZAC Day could be replaced instead by different national festivals such as suggesting that New Zealanders of American origin might prefer to work on ANZAC Day so they could celebrate US Independence Day, Chinese New Zealanders to celebrate Chinese New Year or Irish New Zealanders to celebrate St Patrick s Day. 30. While this comparison is only an illustration, we believe that most people living in New Zealand, whether they choose to attend dawn parades or not, are very respectful of the history which drives the selection of ANZAC Day as a day of significance. 31. Similarly, our experience is that other religious and faith groups in New Zealand who wish to celebrate particular feast days and festivals would not be expecting this to come at the expense of existing religious celebrations and observances. 32. We would be surprised to learn if all employers would like their workers to be able to request to work on days such as Good Friday (when employers may themselves not be expecting to open their businesses) in order to be able to take a day off for an alternative religious feast day. If the right to celebrate religious feast days is based primarily on this kind of arrangement, we fear such a policy might in fact have the opposite effect to that intended - potentially increasing the chance of the discrimination of the employment of people of religious minorities, because employers do not want to make provision for them to work on existing holidays. 33. As we have previously outlined in submissions and statements over several years, the extended leave available to most New Zealanders because of the two public holidays which occur at Easter is welcomed and celebrated by many people for whom the religious connection may not be significant. We are aware that many Māori schedule events such as hui, unveilings and other gatherings at Easter, and it is also frequently a time in the wider community for extended family gatherings, school reunions, sports fixtures, conferences and many other events.

7 34. This opportunity is available to New Zealanders because of the continual defence of Easter and Christmas holidays by a range of organisations, which includes Churches as well as unions and many other community organisations. 35. We do not believe it will assist the common good of our community to reduce the very small number of opportunities for collective rest by weakening the protection of the current public holidays, particularly those at Christmas, Easter and ANZAC Day when there are also restrictions on shop trading. 36. Despite calls for flexibility, any reduction in these entitlements would not be shared equally across society. We think it is unlikely that politicians, business leaders and government departments will find it necessary to schedule significant meetings for those days. It is much more likely to be lowly paid retail and service workers who would pay the price of any increased flexibility in these public holiday entitlements, in terms of family and community time. Question 13: Treatment of Public Holidays 37. As stated in point 34, we particularly wish to see a continuation of the link between public holiday entitlements and the few remaining days of the year in which shop trading is restricted. This includes Christmas Day, Good Friday and ANZAC day, with a discussion about Easter Sunday and Easter Monday following below in response to questions 14 and 15. Questions 14-15: Shop trading on Easter Sunday and its interface with the Holidays Act We responded in last year s review that we believe Easter Sunday should be treated as a public holiday. We do accept there is an inconsistency which needs to be addressed in allowing weekday workers a Monday off to celebrate Easter, while those who are actually required to work on the feast day itself particularly those in essential services do not get any recognition. 39. However, as at that time we would like to emphasise that we would not be prepared to accept any trade off between liberalisation of Easter Trading hours in response to making Easter Sunday a public holiday. We do not believe that making Easter Sunday a public holiday would be enough in itself to protect retail workers from being obliged to work on that day if retail hours were extended. 40. In last year s review we also supported the option to make Easter Sunday a public holiday subject to mondayisation arrangements, where workers get either the Sunday or the Monday off. Conclusion 41. The Catholic Church continues to seek holidays which recognise the value of collective opportunities for rest, celebration and connection with families and wider community. We do not accept this is merely a matter for individual preference or the convenience of particular commercial activities. We also wish to see improved possibilities for people of different faiths to take time off for religious worship and feast days, and would like the Review Group to find ways of doing this which do not affect current holidays provided for at Easter and Christmas.

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