‘Disappointing’ number of dairy farms failed to meet employer obligations

Drive 14/02/2018

Dairy industry employers have been called on by the Labour Inspectorate to sort out their obligations as employers.  

Almost one in three dairy farms visited by the Labour Inspectorate in 2017 failed to meet their recordkeeping obligations, resulting in $11,000 in fines.

Labour Inspectorate Natalie Gardiner joined Stephen McIvor on RadioLIVE Drive to discuss the division’s findings.

The Labour Inspectorate visited just over 100 farms in New Zealand in order to track down the extent that employers were keeping their record obligations.

“We’d like to see farmers take pride in their employment and being good employers,” she said.

Of the farms that failed to meet their obligations, Ms Gardiner most often saw farms without employment agreements or time and wage records.

She told RadioLIVE that both migrant workers and Kiwi citizens are affected by such non-compliance.

“It’s very difficult for farmers to get the wage and holiday requirements right if they’re not keeping accurate time records,” she said.

She says by keeping good records there is protection for both employer and employee.

“They want to be world leading farmers – they should be world leaders in employment as well.”

Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair, later joined Drive to respond to the Labour Inspectorate’s findings.

“The results that have come out are definitely disappointing,” Mr Lewis said. “Compliance should be at 100 percent.”

He points out that there are no excuses for any Federated Farmers members to be non-compliant with employment obligations.

Get on to it and get it done.

The rural advocacy organisation offers its members discounted employment contracts and access to a phone app that can help streamline recordkeeping.

“Our farm staff works bloody hard on farms - they sometimes work long hours. It’s only fair that they get paid a fair wage and the paperwork gets taken care of.”

Farms need to keep records of employment agreements, wages, time, holidays and leave, in addition to paying all employees their entitlements.

Listen to the full interviews with Natalie Gardiner and Chris Lewis above. 

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