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Trying to deceive the Labour Inspectorate

Published 15 Nov 2019

Tales of firms being investigated by the Government's Labour Inspectors are commonplace in the current business environment.

Upholding and enforcing the minimum standards is their role and they will leave no stone un-turned to do so.

It's relatively easy to prove that minimum standards have or have not been met in terms of wages, breaks and holidays. There's not a lot of movement or subjectivity involved when looking at the facts.

Non-cooperation or even muddying the waters is not advisable in any regard when it comes to an Labour Inspectorate audit as a Dunedin business owner discovered recently.

After an investigation of the business for which the boss disclosed he had four staff, evidence was found that a further four people were being employed. The company's contention that these four only 'helped out occasionally' did not impress the inspector.

A total of 40 employment breaches became evident and after failing to respond to the improvement notice from the Labour Inspectorate the company was fined by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) a total of nearly $54,000 on top of the arrears in wages. The ERA also made the Director personally liable for nearly $9000 of the fine.

Shortcomings of the business were quoted as being lack of employment agreements, records of hours & leave, failing to provide at least the minimum wage and minimum holiday pay entitlements.