New Zealand Law Society - Vineyard labour contractor penalised for failing to pay workers

Vineyard labour contractor penalised for failing to pay workers

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A viticulture labour contracting business has been ordered to pay $73,081 in penalties and arrears for breaching employment law following a Labour Inspectorate investigation.

Marlborough-based Precise Contracting Ltd was found to have failed to provide 83 employees with the minimum wage, correct holiday pay, or to keep proper employment records.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) set a $40,000 penalty on top of the $33,081 of arrears to be paid to workers.

During the Labour Inspectorate’s investigation, multiple problematic employment practices were highlighted, such as failing to pay employees their last weeks’ pay or holiday pay when they left the business.

“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,” says Labour Inspectorate regional manager Kevin Finnegan.

“Just because you find employees leaving your business ‘frustrating’ does not entitle you to penalise them by withholding their last pay.”

It was also discovered that Precise Contracting director Rhonda Burridge would regularly alter the timesheet of employees, favouring supervisor’s records where there were conflicts – especially when fewer hours were recorded.

Ms Burridge would also add in 45 minute unpaid lunch breaks, even when employees had recorded shorter breaks.

“Having accurate employment records is important for protecting employers and employees, both for ensuring all hours are paid for, and helping to avoid disputes,” says Mr Finnegan.

“New Zealand has a reputation as a fair and equitable country, and it’s important this is maintained.”