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Dairy farm to pay $21,009.80 for breaching employment rights of migrants

A West Coast dairy farm must pay $21,009.80 for serious employment breaches relating to two migrant workers, following an investigation by the Labour Inspectorate.

White Developments Limited was ordered by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) to pay $5009.80 in arrears to the two employees and $16,000 in penalties for failing to pay minimum wage or holiday pay, provide employment agreements, or keep wage, time, holiday or leave records.

On 21 March 2016, the Labour Inspector issued an improvement notice giving the Hari Hari based farm until 22 April 2016 to pay the two employees what they were owed and fix their employment practices.

White Developments Limited repeatedly assured the Labour Inspectorate they would meet their obligations, and was granted an additional seven weeks to meet the conditions of the improvement notice.

It was only on 30 June 2016 the Labour Inspectorate lodged an application at the ERA, with White Developments Limited having failed to produce any evidence of the arrears being paid or of compliance with their minimum employment obligations.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re in Bluff, Cape Reinga, Westport or anywhere in between - every employer in New Zealand must provide their employees with at least the minimum wage for every hour worked,” says Labour Inspectorate regional manager Natalie Gardiner.

“Employers obligations to keep records of wage, time, holiday and leave records are important not only because they are a legal requirement, but because of the protection they offer to both parties if anything does go wrong.

“There are simply no excuses for failing to meet your obligations as an employer to keep records and provide employees with their minimum entitlements. These are long standing requirements of New Zealand law, which every employer must meet.”

In addition to the penalties, White Developments Limited will be placed on a stand down period of 12 months restricting their access to migrant labour.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment encourages anyone concerned about their employment situation, or the situation of someone they know, to call its contact centre on 0800 20 90 20, where their concerns will be handled in a safe environment.

The ERA determination is available online. (external link)