Southland Dairy Farmer penalised $30,000 for breaches. Questions raised regarding due diligence within the industry.
The Employment relations authority has ordered a Southland dairy farmer to pay $30,000 after failing to comply with the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Holidays Act 2003.
The Authority found the Employer failed to keep holiday and leave records for any of his employees. Three employees did not receive the final pay on termination of their employment and at least one employee did not receive time and a half, or receive a day in lieu for working a public holiday. Adequate records for holidays and leave did not exist, making it impossible to quantify the extent to which other employees failed to receive their holiday and leave entitlements.
The Inspectorate found that of seventeen employees that were employed between September 2018 and September 2019, only one had an employment agreement, which the employee had supplied themselves. Due to a lack of detailed wage and time records, it has proved impossible to tell if workers had been paid at least the minimum wage.
The ERA determination noted that record keeping, as well as being a legal requirement, is “central to building productive employment relationships.” The ERA determination showed the breaches were intentional and the employer “took no steps throughout his history as an employer in New Zealand to familiarise himself with his legal obligations” and was “wilfully blind.”
Labour Inspectorate dairy sector strategy lead Callum McMillan says the dairy farming industry is a focus area for the Labour Inspectorate.
“It’s not enough that employers take a passive approach to compliance with employment standards. Employers have a responsibility to get the basics right no matter how long they’ve been operating.
“The industry has taken some steps over the last few years by setting expectations and establishing assurance systems, and has support readily available for farmers on matters of employment. This makes it even more disappointing that there are still dairy farmers who are failing to get the minimum requirements right, and raises a question around the due diligence the industry has in place.” Mr McMillan says.
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