Labour Day

Today is Labour Day. For some, it is just a holiday but for others, it is reminder that we celebrate the idea of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to have an eight hour working day. If workers have to work more than eight hours, they have to be paid overtime rates. Some jobs let workers choose to work 10 hours a day for 4 days a week instead. Check your employment contract. If you think your boss is not fair, try to discuss the problem with him or her first. If you are a union member, ask someone from the union to speak to your boss. Or you can ask the Community Law Centre for help.

Listen to October 26th 2009 to hear about the beginning of the 8-hour working day in NZ.

Grammar / usage

Note: a union (not an union). If a word begins with a long ‘u’ sound, we do not use ‘an’ before it. Compare: an eight-hour day
Note also the expression ‘one of the first countries’. The noun is always plural because you are thinking of many countries even though you only refer to one.


overtime rates – pay at a higher rate for working longer hours
a Trade union – an organisation of workers from one kind of job e.g. hospitality workers.


Do you think the 8-hour working day / 40 hours a week is a good law?
In your country, do workers usually work only 40 hours a week?
What does work/life balance mean?