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Burger King banned from hiring migrant workers for one year

A recent Authority case yet again highlights the serious consequences business owners face for not paying employees in accordance with their minimum statutory entitlements. Penalties of up to $20,000 for each breach are being imposed and, since 1 April 2017, new measures are being enforced to stop employers, who do not comply with or who […]

Employers to pay for pre-work meetings

Unions representing retail workers are receiving numerous complaints from employees around the country after a recent Employment Court case has ensured that employers can no longer plead ignorance to avoid paying employees for participating in work related activities outside of work hours [1].   Smiths City Group Ltd has been ordered to comply with an Improvement […]

Penalties for Employers Breaching Minimum Standards are more serious than ever

With tougher sanctions and penalties of up to $20,000 for each breach imposed on business owners, employers need to be confident they are meeting their minimum statutory obligations. In 2017 we have seen significant sanctions on employers and it seems every week the newspapers name and shame employers who have breached minimum standards. Penalties can […]

Minimum Wage increases to $16.50 per hour

On 1 April 2018 the adult minimum wage rate went up 75 cents to $16.50 per hour. The starting out and training rates also increased 40 cents to $13.20 per hour. If you pay your workers minimum wage rates, you’ll need to make sure you update your payroll system and their employment agreements (you can […]

What might the employment landscape become under our new Government?

After nine years under a National Government, the employment landscape is about to be reshaped.  While Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens all had different policies and priorities coming into the 2017 election, they shared the commonality of being policies for the people. One of the places where we are likely to see some […]

$57,000 fine for breach of minimum employment standards

This case highlights the heavy consequences and financial implications of knowingly breaching minimum employment standards. BBS is a horticultural company which contracts services to horticultural growers, particularly asparagus producers in the Waikato.  Upon a Labour Inspector visit in 2013, it was discovered the employees were not provided with individual employment agreements, there were no time […]

Twice caught vineyard labour contractor penalised $25,000 for employment failures

A vineyard labour contractor has been penalised $25,000 by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) after a labour inspector found they failed to meet their obligation to keep employment records for a second time. This penalty follows on from an earlier determination by the ERA on 18 November 2015, where KRSVP Limited was ordered to pay $7,500 […]

Employment Relations Authority determines “on-call” as being “work”

In Sanderson v South Canterbury District Health Board [2017] NZERA Christchurch 37, the Employment Relations Authority has determined that being “on-call” constitutes “work”, which means the Minimum Wage Act will apply.  As such, these employees must be paid at a rate no less than the minimum wage for every hour that they are on-call. This […]

Minimum Wage Increases 50 cents per hour on 1 April 2017

As of 1 April 2017 the new minimum wage rates are: Adult — $15.75 an hour Starting-out — $12.60 an hour (up from $12.20) Training — $12.60 an hour (up from $12.20) Starting-out and training minimum wages are 80% of the adult minimum wage. What you’ll need to do: You and your staff can agree […]

New Record Keeping Requirements

The introduction of the new Employment Standards Legislation from 1 April 2016 places greater emphasis on the requirement for employers to keep clearer records for pay, time, leave and public holidays. The purpose of these changes are to make it easier to assess if employees are receiving their minimum entitlements as set out in legislation. […]

Employment Standards Legislation Bill – Passed third reading

The Employment Standards Legislation Bill has passed third reading in parliament and will come into force 1 April 2016. This Bill has been further amended divided off into the following separate Bills: Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill comprising clauses 1 and 2, Part 1, and Schedules 1 and 2 Employment Relations Amendment Bill […]

Employment Standards Bill

The Employment Standards Legislation Bill proposes to amend the New Zealand employment law to ensure it responds to the modern, dynamic business environment and encourages fair and productive workplaces. The key changes include: Extending paid parental leave to more workers and increase the flexibility of the scheme Strengthen enforcement of minimum employment standards Address issues […]

Tougher sanctions for breach of minimum employment standards

The Government has introduced the Employment Standards Legislation Bill. In essence, this is to provide harsher sanctions for exploitative employment practices involving breach of statutory minima relating to wages and holidays. Greater investigative powers for Labour Inspectors and employment institutions will assist in bringing perpetrators to account. At present, the maximum fine is $10,000 for […]

Christchurch construction company penalised for labour law breaches during Christchurch rebuild

MBIE says this case is typical of a disappointing trend it is starting to see nationally of employers treating employees as contractors to avoid keeping records, making payments to IRD and paying the minimum wage and holiday entitlements. 28 January 2015 The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered wage arrears be paid to workers and imposed […]

Fortnightly Minimum Wage Order made

The Minimum Wage Order is changing to include a fortnightly minimum wage rate. This is in response to a recent Court ruling that found a week is the longest period which salaried workers could be assessed for compliance with the Minimum Wage Act. Mr Bridges says the ruling does not adequately reflect current work practices, […]

Employee awarded over $90000 for unpaid wages and unjustified dismissal

Hill v Shand (Christchurch) [2014] NZERA 266 The employee in this case was hired as the manager of the Murchison camping ground. There was no written employment agreement between the parties but a verbal arrangement was made whereby the employee would be paid a salary of $30,000 per year and would also be entitled to […]

Dairy farm visits show majority of farmers breaching employment laws

In total 44 farms were visited between December 2013 and early April 2014 and 31 were found to be in breach of minimum employment rights. 28 April 2014 The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate has released the results of the second phase of its national dairy strategy, revealing more than half the […]

Employer KiwiSaver contribution cannot take employee below minimum wage

Court of Appeal confirms the Employment Court’s position Employers can agree with employees that they will pay KiwiSaver contributions on a “total remuneration” approach whereby their wages are inclusive of the employer’s contribution. However, there is an important exception to that rule, and that is when the gross wages after such contributions are made are less that the statutory […]

Recent case: Employment of family members problematic

Employing family members can lead to problems as the case noted below shows. Family members should always be given written employment agreements and be paid at least the minimum wage. In Meroiti v Lindale Lodge Ltd [2013] NZERA Wellington 104, Graeme was employed by his brother John as manager of the Lindale Motor Lodge. The […]

Recent case: No annual averaging out of minimum wage permitted

An employer’s claim that weekly wages that were less than the minimum wage, paid to a farm worker when cows were being milked, could be offset against wages that were higher than the minimum wage, paid to the worker when the cows were dry, so over the year the employer was complying with the Minimum […]

Freeze order served to Auckland businesses fined for labour breaches

On 25 October, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate served freezing orders which were granted by the Employment Court, on three companies operating Auckland convenience and liquor stores owing over $200,000 for breaches of employment law.  It is the first time the Labour Inspectorate has used section 190 of the Employment Relations […]

Employer’s KiwiSaver contributions could not be deducted from minimum wage

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal from an aged care provider that sought to deduct KiwiSaver compulsory employer contributions from the minimum wages it paid its caregivers. The Employment Court had found that it could not do so (Faitala v TerraNova Homes & Care Ltd (2012) 10 NZELC; [2012] NZEmpC 199) and its […]

When should I contact a Labour Inspector?



Labour Inspectors make sure that employers operate within the law in relation minimum entitlements – that is things like minimum wages, annual leave, and public holidays.  They can take action to enforce minimum standards through the Employment Relations Authority. If you believe you are receiving less than your legal minimum entitlements then ideally, you should discuss […]

KiwiSaver employer contributions

With the recent increase in the minimum rate of KiwiSaver contributions rising to 3% for both employees and employers, it is timely to examine the implications of KiwiSaver from both a financial and legal perspective. For employers, there are two approaches to calculating minimum employer contributions to KiwiSaver: the “default” approach and the “total remuneration” […]

Starting-out wage

The new ‘starting-out wage’ will be an option for employers and employees from 1 May 2013. The starting-out wage will give employers a real incentive to give young people a foothold on the employment ladder. Three groups will be eligible for the starting-out wage. These are: 16- and 17-year-olds in their first six months of […]

Employers’ KiwiSaver contributions must be paid in addition to minimum wage

Faitala v Terranova Homes & Care Ltd A full court of the Employment Court has held that the employer of any employee on the minimum wage must pay the KiwiSaver employer contribution in addition to the minimum wage or, if the parties agree to what is commonly called a “total remuneration” approach, the gross wage […]

Employee’s Right to Wage & Time Records

The Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Minimum Wage Act 1983 require employers to keep records of time worked and wages paid for that time. Accordingly, employers should set up a system as required by the Acts. Note that it is an offence to fail to keep a wage and time record. In Service and […]