9 Sep 2013

Crackdown on farm wage payments

10:30 am on 9 September 2013

Labour inspectors say they are cracking down on farmers who are underpaying workers by using seasonal averaging pay methods.

A Stratford farmer has been ordered to pay wage compensation of more than $6000 by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for underpaying a worker.

Inspectors found the worker's pay was averaged across high and low seasons and did not meet the minimum wage rate.

Labour Inspectorate general manager George Mason says the worker was paid an annual salary of $32,000 while being required to work as many as 60 hours a week.

His hours would drop to as few as 38 hours a week in the dry season, meaning on average he was being paid below the minimum wage.

Mr Mason says workers are coming forward about pay concerns and the ministry is focusing on the seasonal pay method now it has been made aware of it.

He says any seasonal averaging of wages in the agriculture sector is unlawful.