Due to a recent sharp rise in the number of complaints received by MBIE relating to the dairy sector, the Labour Inspectorate, along with the Tenancy Compliance Investigations Team, will start visiting dairy farms from late February to assess their compliance with minimum standards of employment and tenancy. This is now a focus area for the Inspectorate, and follows similar exercises first undertaken in 2013.
According to Labour Inspectorate Regional Manager Callum McMillan, “The key objective of the visits is to ensure better compliance in the dairy industry across minimum employment and accommodation standards. This will include looking at employment agreements, record keeping and ensuring payments of at least the minimum wage. Of key importance will be the ability to produce records to show compliance in this area, this includes time and attendance records – i.e. timesheets & leave taken records.
“We have had success working in close partnership with the dairy industry, to ensure this important part of New Zealand’s economy is meeting their obligations under labour and tenancy laws.
“As part of this industry-wide exercise, labour inspectors will talk with employers and employees, review records and we will also be accompanied by officers from MBIE’s Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team to assess standards of onsite accommodation for farm workers.
“More broadly, these visits will check that if a dairy sector employer is providing housing to their employees, that its compliant with the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 and that it meets the minimum standards aimed at ensuring the homes are warm, dry and safe.”
Warranted Labour Inspectors plan to visit farms in both the North and South Islands.
“The industry has taken some steps over the last few years by setting expectations and establishing assurance systems and has support readily available for dairy farmers on matters of employment.
“These visits are an opportunity for employers to demonstrate compliance, but if noncompliance is found, the Labour Inspectorate and TCIT will consider the appropriate response which may include the issuance of infringement notices.”
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