3 May 2017

Contractor penalised $73k for underpaid workers

2:13 pm on 3 May 2017

A vineyard labour contractor who underpaid 83 workers has been ordered to pay more than 73-thousand dollars in penalties and pay arrears.

Vineyard worker picking grapes.

Photo: 123RF

The Employment Relations Authority found Marlborough-based Precise Contracting Limited failed to pay the minimum wage, correct holiday pay and did not keep proper employment records.

"Providing your employees all their minimum entitlements, such as at least a minimum wage for every hour worked and holiday pay, are the basics every employer in New Zealand must follow," labour inspectorate general manager Kevin Finnegan said.

"Just because you find employees leaving your business 'frustrating' does not entitle you to penalise them by withholding their last pay."

Mr Finnegan said the company's director, Rhonda Burridge, would regularly alter the timesheets of employees, adding in 45-minute unpaid lunch breaks.

"Altering your employees' timesheets without their consent, as was common practice for Ms Burridge, is not acceptable."

With such a big stake in exports, it was in the best interests of the viticulture industry to ensure that employment obligations were being met on their vineyards, he said.

"New Zealand has a reputation as a fair and equitable country, and it's important this is maintained."

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