Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Labour Inspectors are visiting Hawke’s Bay orchards this week.
The visits are to make sure those involved in the apple harvest are paying their employees correctly and are keeping accurate and complete records to show compliance.
Labour Inspectorate Regional Manager Kevin Finnegan says the horticulture sector is a priority area for the Inspectorate.
"The Inspectorate has been working closely with the industry to raise compliance with minimum employment standards. The industry implemented a number of programmes to improve compliance.
"One of the focus areas for this year's visits is to check that the industry assurance programmes are working as they should. We're also checking on employers with a recorded history of employment issues and doing random checks on orchards to make sure employees are receiving the correct entitlements.
"Good record keeping is the only way to ensure and demonstrate compliance and there are free resources to assist with that on the Employment New Zealand website," Mr Finnegan says.
Orchard businesses also need to undertake due diligence before using labour contractors to ensure they have compliant employment practices. Poor quality sub-contracting and labour on hire business models increase the risk of employment law breaches in the supply chain.
"Failure to provide employees with their minimum legal entitlements impacts the sector's ability to recruit and retain workers. Employers who breach employment law are also banned from recruiting new migrants from overseas. That also prevents them from recruiting workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employers scheme.
"Poor employment practices jeopardises domestic sales and exports, and also undercut the majority of employers who do the right thing," Mr Finnegan says.
MBIE encourages anyone concerned about the employment situation of themselves or someone they know to call its contact centre on 0800 20 90 20, where their concerns will be handled in a safe environment.
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