5 Nov 2015

Farmers told to keep employment records

4:40 pm on 5 November 2015

The government is sending farm employers a clear message: keep staff records or face fines.

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Photo: 123rf.com

The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has been targeting the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries, as well as others, to crack down on poor record keeping.

MBIE Labour Inspectorate general manager George Mason said of the 332 breaches last year, 130 were in those industries.

Employers needed to record the hours and days worked by employees, as well as their leave and wages, and farmers had typically been poor at this, Mr Mason said.

"In the last six months we've had seven cases in the agriculture space. We've had two cases of dairy cattle farming, one fined $1000 another $500.

"We've had a number of cases in horticulture and viticulture with fines of $7500, $6500, $2500, and those are spread from Gore in Winton in the south to Tauranga in the north.

"We're seeing major problems everywhere and we think this is a real challenge for these sectors to lift their game around record keeping."

Farmers needed to make use of resources available through the IRD and DairyNZ.

"I don't think employers appreciate their obligations, and I also don't think they appreciate the value of keeping records," Mr Mason said.

"In a number of sectors it was acceptable to offer a job without specifying the hours in which that job would need to be performed and then expect employees to work all manner of hours to complete the task.

"This has been a focus for the labour inspectorate, so as part of focusing on those kinds of practices it's brought to light the fact that records are not being kept for the work that employees do."

Penalties for employment breaches included fines of up to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for companies.

Hospitality and construction were other industries under scrutiny by the labour inspectorate, Mr Mason said.

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