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Fit For Work EuropeThe Work Foundation

Fit EU Blog

Discourse on work and wellbeing in the EU


Addressing productivity challenges in New Zealand

On September 5 the latest Fit for Work report was launched in New Zealand. Our report highlighted that New Zealand must address the problem of labour productivity so that it is able to extract the most economic benefit from its labour force, and secure high levels of growth.

In 2010 New Zealand was ranked 27 percentage points below the OECD average in terms of labour productivity, and a further 32 percentage points behind Australia (Patterson and Brown, 2010) – something we’re sure their neighbourly rivals over the Tasman Sea were happy about! In addition to low skill levels among the working age population, a significant reason for low levels of productivity is likely to be ill-health.

Musculoskeletal conditions are the leading cause of temporary and permanent incapacity in New Zealand. Almost 29 per cent of those with musculoskeletal pain reported it to be disabling.

We have also found that:

  • The odds of participating in the labour force in New Zealand are 31.5 percentage points lower for those people with a chronic condition, such as an MSD. In 2005, for example, 25,440 people were not participating in the labour market because of their arthritis.
  • In 2010 the cost of medical fees relating to Discomfort, Pain and Injury workers’ compensation claims (i.e. MSDs) accepted by Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) totalled NZ$ 9,000,266.
  • At the end of 2010 14.5 per cent of all accepted claims for sickness benefit and 11.7 per cent of all accepted claims for Invalid’s benefit were for MSDs. Behind psychological and psychiatric conditions, MSDs represented the second largest category of conditions resulting in claims for sickness benefit.
  • The direct cost of work-related injuries and disease (which are thought to be largely made up of MSDs) to the New Zealand’s economy is between 4 and 8 per cent of GDP in 2002.

Faced with the imperative to maximise workforce productivity, New Zealand’s policymakers must recognise that people with a disability are less likely to be participating in the labour force. Policies and employment practices should support job retention and return-to-work for many New Zealanders whose participation at the New Zealand’s labour market is hindered by ill-health.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 at 8:29 am and is filed under Asia-Pacific. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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