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Farmers should aim to be best practice employers, says Inspectorate

The Labour Inspectorate is calling for dairy farmers to get it sorted in 2018 with compliant records, agreements, and all employees receiving at least the minimum wage for every hour worked.

“Part of being a good employer is ensuring that everyone on your farm is getting all their minimum employment entitlements,” says Labour Inspectorate regional manager Natalie Gardiner.

“This requires keeping good wage, time, holiday, and leave records, compliant employment agreements, and paying your employees all their entitlements such as for working public holidays.

“Our most recent investigation found 28 per cent of farms visited failing to meet their record keeping obligations, resulting in $11,000 in fines – and we want to see farmers do better this year.

“While this was an improvement on our previous visits, in reality no farmer should be failing to meet these basic and long-standing requirements of New Zealand employment law.”

The stand down list introduced last year as a result of the Labour Inspectorate and Immigration New Zealand working together means employers face consequences beyond the immediate fine.

Employers on the stand down list have committed a clear-cut breach of employment standards, and as a result are prevented from sponsoring new visas to recruit migrant labour for up to two years.

“By keeping good records, you offer protection to both yourself and your employee should anything go wrong or come under dispute – and are on your way to being a best practice employer.

“Meeting all obligations also helps New Zealand retain its reputation as an equitable place to work and do business, with consumers here and abroad increasingly demanding fairness on the farm.”

Consumers made clear in the National Consumer Survey 2016, conducted by Consumer Protection, that knowing a business treats its workers fairly (for example pays at least minimum wage, provides a safe workplace) regularly affects consumers’ purchasing decisions.

Forty-three percent of consumers said that knowing a business treats its workers fairly affects their decision on where to purchase ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’, whereas 11 per cent said that it ‘never’ affects their purchasing decisions.

“You can bet the farm that the Inspectorate will visit more farms in the coming year, and any which are found not meeting their employment obligations can expect to face serious consequences.”