15 Feb 2018

Crackdown on dairy farm employment records planned

7:35 am on 15 February 2018

The government plans to crack down on dairy farm employment records this year.

FOR WATER TAX story - Generic cow

There have been 160 farms put on a stand-down list since new employment rules were put in place on 1 April 2017. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment show that 28 percent of farms visited did not keep correct records - resulting in $11,000 in fines.

Tougher rules introduced in April last year mean that if employment standards are breached, then the employer is put on a stand-down list and can't sponsor new visas for migrant labour for up to two years.

There have been 160 employers placed on the stand down list since it was put in place on 1 April 2017.

Labour Inspectorate Natalie Gardiner said the dairy sector tended to have low levels of compliance.

"The main issues have been the lack of record keeping. I'm talking particularly about employment agreements and time records in particular.

"Obviously with dairy farmers working long hours the time sheets are really important to keep accurate ... Also it flows into insuring they pay the correct wages and that employees are not dipping below that minimum wage."

Any farms found not meeting their employment obligations will face serious consequences, she said.

"We'll be continuing to visit farms and checking they have their minimum obligations in place, and their record keeping is in place.

"Farmers can expect us to continue knocking on their doors."

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