Two farmers who were overworked, including a new mother who wasn't allowed time off after giving birth, have been awarded $22,000 by the Employment Relations Authority.

Kirstin Morgan and her partner Bernard Reiher were employed as farm manager and assistant farm manager at a farm in Christchurch for seven months in 2013.

Reiher told the ERA that for the entire duration of his employment he worked every single day, except for one.

He was told by his employer Judith Jones of Kershevin Farms Ltd he was expected to work on his rostered days off and she told him he took the "job on knowing that's the way it was."


Reiher sought unpaid wages from the ERA for the days he worked while rostered off.

Morgan continued to work right up until she went into labour and continued to undertake management duties, not physical farming duties, after she gave birth to her daughter.

She told the ERA Jones threatened to replace her of reduce her wages if she took maternity leave.

Member of the Authority Christine Hickey awarded Reiher $7,378 and Morgan $2,528 in unpaid wages and holiday pay.

Both Morgan and Reiher told the ERA they felt Jones had disregarded their tenancy rights during their employment by dropping in unannounced to their house on the farm.

Jones told the ERA she felt she was entitled to call in at any time because the couple lived in the house on the farm.

The couple told Jones they didn't want unannounced visits, especially during Morgan's pregnancy, but she continued to call in whenever she wanted.

Hickey upheld all of the couple's claim and found Jones' repeated presence at the house unfairly disadvantaged their employment.

The farm was sold at auction and the couple were informed by email their employment would end, which the ERA said was unjustified because there was no consultation and no effort to find other employment for the couple.

Both Morgan and Reiher were awarded $6000 in compensation for hurt and humiliation.

Kerveshin Farms Ltd made counter-claims to the ERA about poor treatment of animals, which were thrown out by the Authority.

This is the third time Kerveshin Farms Ltd has appeared before the Authority for failing to use a proper, fair process in making decisions about redundancies.

Read the full decision here: