Category Archives: Labour

Press Release: Recruiting Filipino Workers in the Cook Islands

Many employers in the Cook Islands seek to employ Filipino workers in their businesses or private homes as they offer skills in a variety of areas such as care and nursing, housekeeping, accountancy, mechanics, retail, hospitality, food and beverages or even agriculture. Immigration has approved 101 new applications for work permits for Filipino workers since the beginning of year 2017. However the recruiting process for Filipino workers is quite different from that of other nationalities of migrant workers since the Government of the Philippines established and enforced the Philippines Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) to facilitate the generation and preservation of decent jobs for Filipino migrant workers, promoting their protection and advocating their smooth reintegration into Philippine society after their period of employment overseas.

Any employer in the Cook Islands interested in recruiting a Filipino worker would have to go through a formal procedure with a POEA approved and licensed Philippine recruitment agency. This is mandatory and a list of the approved licensed recruitment is available online. In addition, a number of local recruiting agents can assist employers to go through this process against a service fee. Most importantly, the POEA has a standard contract for all Filipino workers going overseas and while it is possible for employers to add on or renegotiate the terms of the contract, it is the POEA who gives the final approval on the contract before releasing the worker to go overseas. This POEA approved contract is the one that legally binds the worker and the employer here in the Cook Islands. It is therefore illegal to offer Filipino workers substitute contracts once they arrive in country and both the employer and the recruiting agency can be liable under Philippines legislation to a penalty of imprisonment and a fine of approx. 50’000 NZD. Furthermore, even without any formal filing of charges, there are administrative mechanisms that can suspend, revoke or ban the recruiting agency and employers can be put on a watch list that will then prevent them from hiring any other Filipino workers and be prevented from entering the Philippines.

The Government of the Cook Islands sought clarification directly with the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines on the above matters following queries from both employers and Filipino workers in country. The President of the Filipino Community (FilCom), Vicente Aydalla, expressed the community’s appreciation in getting the much needed clarification to ensure that Filipino workers are being treated fairly in our little paradise.

If any employers or future employers are interested in getting more information on the process of recruiting a Filipino worker, they are welcome to contact the Labour Division on or phone 29370.

PRESS RELEASE – Youth & the future of Work in the Cook Islands Survey – August 2017

Youth and the Future of Work in the Cook Islands


Survey-August 2017




Recently, the Labour and Consumer Division attended two important meetings under the International Labour Organisation (ILO), one regional with other pacific island member states and one international with all member states of the organisation. Attendance at these meetings resulted in an awareness of the fact that around the world, profound changes in the nature of work are underway. Numerous drivers such as demographic shifts, climate change, technological innovation, poverty and growing inequality, economic stagnation, account for these changes and has urged the ILO to launch the Future of Work (FOW) Centenary Initiative in 2013. Youth and climate change have been two most critical issues of the future of work in the Pacific region.


Future of Work is a theme from the ILO, which explains the initiative to think, discuss and become proactive about work-related issues in our future. It is seen as a contribution to the cause of social justice and was launched in a context of great uncertainty and insecurity, and of fear that direction of change in the world of work is away from, not towards, the achievement of social justice.


 Youth play an important role towards nation building and its future aspirations. The high youth unemployment rate is a chronic issue in the Pacific and will impact negatively on future economic development. The urgency therefore lies with the need to find potential and viable strategies that would encourage youth entrepreneurship and putting more youth in employment and to positively harness young people’s potential across the national and international labour markets.


For small island states of the Pacific, the physical impact of climate change, such as rising sea levels and increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters is phenomenal and particularly devastating.  Climate change poses an enormous dilemma for the governments of the pacific region to retain the balance of development at home and decent job opportunities for youth migrating to other countries. The aftermath of devastating natural disasters results in dysfunctional social and economic systems and the questions around policy response to such negative impacts are important. In addition, concerns lay also on the importance of building the resilience of our youth to prepare, prevent and minimize the negative impacts of climate change in their future of work.


 The purpose of the Youth and Future of Work in the Cook Islands Survey is to have first-hand feedback from the Youth of our country. Our national economy is hugely reliant on tourism which is itself dependent on climate change. The questions to our youth are about their aspirations as future employers, employees of our country and their vision of how they will be contributing to our economic development. Most importantly, their contribution can inform us on the strategies we need to put in place now to allow positive harnessing of their potential and assist them in their development and transition from school into the world of work.


 The survey is a collaboration between the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Youth and Labour Division) and the Ministry of Education. The Government would like to include all Youth into this dialogue, starting with the ones who are within the formal education structure. The survey is available online through our websites (MOE and INTAFF) as well as on our face book pages (INTAFF and Labour and Consumer page). The link will be shared to all general stakeholders, encouraging them to engage their children in the activity for maximum participation.




The link to the Survey is:



Join Us in shaping the future of work in the Cook Islands !





Contact: Labour and Consumer Division, Ministry of Internal Affairs.




Press Release – Accidents on the work place

All accidents causing death or serious bodily injuries to workers need to be reported directly to the Labour and Consumer Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs as soon as practicable, within 48 hours after the incident. Any injury that leads to hospitalisation of the worker for 48 hour within 7 days of the accident is considered as being serious.  

The Employer should conduct an internal investigation on the circumstances of the accident, including the worker’s feedback and provide a report of accident to the Ministry. The report should mention the nature of the accident, the details of the injured worker and the measures taken by the employer as a result of the accident.  

In some cases, the accident may lead to an application for workers compensation if the worker is not able to return to work for at least 4 days.

 Should the accident be a minor one and the worker is able to resume work without difficulty, there is no obligation to report it to the Ministry. But the employer must still list the incident in a register of accident as such register can be requested for sighting by the labour inspector during a site visit.

 For further enquiries related to accidents on the workplace or general labour and consumer related matters, kindly contact the Labour and Consumer Division, Ministry of Internal Affairs, on 29370 or by email




In accordance with the Employment Relations Act 2012, the Minister Nicholas, has confirmed a Minimum Wage Review Panel to conduct the 2017 review of the current minimum wage rate in the Cook Islands. Panel members include Sandrina, Ministry of Internal Affairs; Kaipo Ingram, Ministry of Finance & Economic Management; Steve Anderson, Chamber of Commerce (for employers); Tuaine Maunga, Cook Islands Workers Association (for employees); and Vaitoti Tupa, community representative. The task of the Panel is to review the minimum wage rate and make recommendations to the Minister who will then decide on the current rate. Factors such as prevailing economic conditions, income distribution, protection for low income earners, and work incentives, as well as public submissions will be considered when the Panel carries out the review. In 2006 the minimum rate was set at $5.00 an hour. In 2014, following the review, the rate was increased to $6.00 an hour, a 20% increase on the 2006 minimum wage rate. In 2015, the last review led to an increase from $6.00 to $6.25 an hour. The Panel has met for their first meeting on Wednesday 1 February 2017 and will be meeting regularly over the month to analyze available data before finalizing their recommendations.

Under the Employment Relations Act 2012, the Minister of Internal Affairs must review the Minimum Wage annually. In order to assist the review of the minimum wage this year, the Minimum Wage Review Panel has produced an Issues Paper for public consultation. This Paper suggests possible areas of concern and consideration in setting the minimum wage and will be available in this Saturday’s Cook Islands News. It will also be available at the website. As the minimum wage will affect everyone in the Cook Islands, the public are invited to provide feedback and comment.

Public consultation helps Government decide what the minimum wage rate should be. Consultation will include one general public meeting, specific stakeholder meetings, radio and television, and outreach in the Pa Enua.

The general public meeting to discuss the Minimum Wage will be held on Friday 17 February 2017, from 12pm lunch time, at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Conference Room, Tupapa.

Copies of the Issues Paper are available in Maori and English and are being sent to all Island Administration offices in Pa Enua. Those on Rarotonga are welcome to collect the Paper from the Ministry of Internal Affairs or email us on the below address for a copy. 2

Public submissions on the minimum wage can be made at the public meeting, on radio, in writing delivered via email to , faxed to +682 26370 or delivered by hand to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tupapa. The closing date for submission is Monday 20 February 2017 as the Panel is required to submit a final report to the Minister by 1 March 2017.

For more information about the public meeting or for a copy of the issues paper please contact the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Labour & Employment Relations Office on 29370 or email .

FINAL – 2017 MWReview Issues Paper MAORI

FINAL – 2017 MWReview Issues Paper ENGLISH


Issued by: Ministry of Internal Affairs

Contact: Sandrina Thondoo, Director of the Labour and Consumer Division & Elizabeth Hosking, Senior Labour Inspector- Ministry of Internal AffairsEmail:


Press Release –

The Labour and Consumer Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs is in the process of creating a contact list of all businesses in Rarotonga and the Outer Islands. Having such a comprehensive and up-to-date contact list will largely facilitate the communication between the Ministry and all Stakeholders on labour matters and information about employee and employer rights and duties by email or otherwise. At this stage, there are two important activities planned to be rolled out as from January 2017: the Labour Inspections and the Employer Liability Insurance Scheme. For the Consumer Division, the newly appointed Senior Consumer Advisor, Mr Papaterai William, will actively engage with Stakeholders in regards to consumer rights and complaints.

All Businesses are therefore invited to contact our office via email, phone or Facebook to provide the necessary contact details. Public notices will be published during the month of January as a friendly reminder. The Labour and Consumer Division appreciates and thanks all its valued Stakeholders for their collaboration.

Press Release : Cook Islands Tripartite Advisory Council Inaugural Meeting


Cook Islands Tripartite Advisory Council Inaugural Meeting

As a recent member state of the ILO, the Cook Islands held the inaugural meeting for the Tripartite Advisory Council on Thursday 15th of December 2016. Supported by cabinet decision CM (16) 312 of 23 August 2016, representatives from the Workers, Employers and Government met to adopt their terms of reference establishing the Council as an advisory organ on all matters related to labour.

Tripartism is a foundational principle and a fundamental value of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and can be defined as “the interaction of government, employers and workers as equal and independent partners to seek solutions” to labour issues.

Other than their important advisory role, the Council will be responsible for appointing technical working groups related to matters such as the Minimum Wage Review. The Council’s aim is to support Government in establishing Decent Work and productive employment as key elements to achieving a fair globalization, reducing poverty and achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainable development. Their next meeting is scheduled for April 2017.

For any additional queries, kindly contact the Secretariat of the Council, which is the Division of Labour and Consumer at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.




Word count: 198

Expected Date of Release: Friday 23th November 2016


Sandrina Thondoo, Director of Labour:

Public Holiday Entitlements during this Festive Season!

Press Release

Public Holiday Entitlements during this Festive Season!

This year, both Christmas and New Year’s public holidays fall over the weekend and for some industries that work right through the festivities, the question of worker’s entitlements is a concern. Following legal advice, the Labour and Consumer Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs would like to inform you about your rights and obligations under the Employment Relations Act 2012 (ERA) and the Public Holidays Act 1999 (PHA).

Under the PHA Christmas day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Day after New Year’s Day are deemed public holidays and are the minimum public holiday entitlement for all workers required to work on those days. Section 3(2) of the PHA provides that when these public holidays fall on a Saturday or a Sunday, the holiday shall be observed respectively on the following Monday and Tuesday. Section 38(2)(a) to (d) of the ERA enables employee and employer negotiations over how to deal with public holiday entitlements, for example, either paid double time, or single pay and time in lieu or given an extra annual leave day.

If workers are required to work on the public holidays as well as the days to be observed as public holidays, that is Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, workers are entitled as a minimum to be compensated under section 38(2)(a) to (d) of the ERA for working those days. Striving for Decent Work standards across the country, employers are therefore encouraged to adopt a fair and reasonable approach in implementing section 3(2) of the PHA and section 38(2)(a) to (d) of the ERA during this festive season.

The Labour and Consumer Division wishes a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2017 to all our valued stakeholders. Any additional queries may be sent by email on or by phone.


Word Count: 299


Sandrina Thondoo, Director of Labour and Consumer Division,

Ministry of Internal Affairs.