A Government inspection team is disappointed at the level of employment law non-compliance among dairy farms during a four-month inspection across New Zealand.

Between December 2013 and early April 2014, 44 farms were visited, with 31 found in breach of minimum-employment rights.

There were 17 employment breaches in the lower North Island/Marlborough area. No separate figures were available for Wairarapa.

The inspection is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's national dairy strategy.


Central region manager Kris Metcalf says the visits were part of a long-term operation, with particular focus on a practice involving the seasonal averaging of salaries and the failure to keep accurate time and wage records.

"The level of non-compliance is disappointing, with most of the breaches relating to insufficient record keeping.

"Farmers need to keep accurate time and wage records to ensure they are meeting their obligations for minimum wage and holiday payments.

"The Labour Inspectorate has taken enforcement action in response to the identified breaches, which has resulted in 22 enforceable undertakings and one improvement notice being issued.

"These farmers have been given 28 days to comply and the Labour Inspectorate is now actively following up compliance," Mr Metcalf said.

The Labour Inspectorate recovered arrears in one case, with a farmer paying an employee $6000 for breaching the Minimum Wage Act 1983.

Several cases are still open with the possibility of more serious enforcement action pending.

Mr Metcalf warned the next phase in the national dairy strategy will be focused on farms employing migrant workers.


"Farmers need to lift their game in complying with minimum employment rights and can expect a strong enforcement response from the next phase.

"There are financial penalties for not complying with employment laws of up to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for companies."

Mr Metcalf said examples of sufficient wage and time records can be found on the IRD and Dairy NZ websites.

Anyone concerned about their employment situation can call the MBIE on 0800 20 90 20.