The Labour Inspectorate has fined farmers $11,000 and nearly a third of 102 farmer employers audited nationwide were found to have accumulated 38 violations.
Federated Farmers board member Chris Lewis was disappointed at the latest results saying he expected every farmer-employer to comply with the law.
It was equally frustrating given there were easily accessible resources such as standard farm employment contracts available from Federated Farmers and technology making payroll management a simple job.
At the peak of the season Lewis can employ seven staff and recently, along with Federated Farmers, started partnering with PaySource to develop a simple payroll package for farmers that has turned a multi-hour weekly chore for him in to a weekly two or three-minute job.
Staff have a phone app on which they record hours worked and apply for leave.
Once a week Lewis checks the information entered and when satisfied pushes a button and within a minute staff are notified of their pay and records are updated.
“I go online every Monday, check the hours worked, any leave requests, push a few calculations and push a button and it is done in two to three minutes.”
Within a minute a report and wage form is sent to Lewis and his staff and the records are easily accessible if needed for auditing.
“I’ve got lazier but I am doing a better job.”
Lewis said while such technology could be daunting, the days of paper trails were gone because they were time-consuming and vulnerable to error.
Labour Inspectorate regional manager Natalie Gardiner urged farmers to up their game this year with compliant records and agreements so staff received what they were entitled to.
“Part of being a good employer is ensuring that everyone on your farm is getting their correct employment entitlements,” she said.
“This requires keeping good wage, time, holiday and leave records, compliant employment agreements and paying your employees all their entitlements such as working for public holidays.”
Last year a stand-down punishment was introduced for farmer-employers who committed a clear-breach of employment standards, which prevented them from sponsoring new visas to recruit migrant labour for up to two years.
By: Neal Wallace
Source: Farmers Weekly