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West Coast dairy farm to pay $8550.84 for employment breaches

A dairy farm on the West Coast was ordered to pay $8550.84 by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) after a Labour Inspectorate investigation found them breaching their obligations.

Wyatt Farm located in Hari Hari must pay $1550.84 in arrears to two employees and a $7000 penalty for failing to keep holiday and leave records, provide correct pay on a public holiday, and not paying minimum wage.

“Dairy farm workers often work longer hours over spring, and it’s really important for employers to stay vigilant during this time in ensuring they meet all their obligations,” says Labour Inspectorate regional manager Natalie Gardiner.

“With one of their employees for Wyatt Farm being provided an annual salary of $30,000, it was clear they could work a maximum of 81 hours a fortnight before their payment fell below minimum wage.

“Our investigation found during some periods the employee was working as many as 126 hours a fortnight, meaning their pay fell below $10 an hour - this is clearly not acceptable and is a breach of the employee’s rights.”

Wyatt Farm had already been warned about meeting their obligations, with the Labour Inspectorate issuing an enforceable undertaking to the business on 29 July 2013 for not paying minimum wage.

This made it particularly disappointing when a follow up audit of the farm’s employment practices by the Labour Inspectorate in May 2015 uncovered further failures to comply with minimum standards and meet their obligations, says Mrs Gardiner.

“The employer failed to keep holiday and leave records for its three employees and as a result could not demonstrate they had provided time and a half to their employee for working a public holidays – leading to the employer paying far more in arrears and penalties.

“Whether in the office, at your local shop, or on the farm, every employee in New Zealand must be provided with at least their minimum entitlements and the onus is on the employer to get it right – employers caught in breach will face consequences.”

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