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MBIE cracks down on Tasman pack houses that breach employment laws

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has taken enforcement action against six apple pack houses in the Tasman regions for breaching the employment law.

The Ministry’s Labour Inspectorate staff visited nine pack houses in March 2016 as part of joint audit with Immigration New Zealand and Inland Revenue to check for compliance with employment, immigration and tax laws.

Six of the nine pack houses had breaches identified, including using non-compliant employment agreements, failing to keep accurate employment records and failing to pay holiday pay correctly. Labour Inspectorate Regional Manager Kevin Finnegan says six Improvement Notices will be issued with details of the breaches and steps necessary to rectify these, which includes paying back any arrears owed to staff.

One pack house was found to be compliant. And the remaining two were issued with requests to produce their records for audit as they were unavailable at the time of the visit.

“The level of non-compliance identified during this operation was disappointing, especially the failure to have compliant employment agreements and time records,” says Mr Finnegan.

“These are basic requirements all employers need to fulfil to ensure they are providing staff with their legal entitlements.

“The Ministry takes employment law breaches very seriously and is working proactively to crackdown on it throughout joint compliance operations targeting sectors and at risk workers across New Zealand.

“Employers who breach the employment law will be subject to enforcement action which can include penalties of up to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for companies.

“The Ministry encourages anyone in this situation, or who knows of anyone in this situation, to call its contact centre on 0800 20 90 20 where their concerns will be handled in a safe environment,” says Mr Finnegan.