Get hol­i­day leave sorted out now

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By JOHN BROS­NAN

This year has raced along. Soon it will be Christ­mas and then 2013. With that be­ing the case we will have the usual re­quests for leave and the need to have re­lief staff on the farm.

This will also bring the peren­nial ques­tions around pay.

So what are the reg­u­la­tions around hol­i­days and pay?

Re­mem­ber that staff must ap­ply for leave but ap­pli­ca­tion and ap­proval are not the same things. If it re­ally does not suit the em­ployer they can de­cline a leave re­quest. The em­ployer must try to be as fair and rea­son­able as they can, but they still have to run a busi­ness and some­times that means that leave is not con­ve­nient.

Dif­fi­cul­ties can hap­pen when the farm owner and worker both want time off. In this case the farm owner can de­cline the leave re­quested by the worker. The owner and worker will usu­ally sit down and work out some­thing be­tween them but, at the end of the day, it is the bosses call.

A hint for em­ploy­ees here; it al­ways helps your em­ployer to plan things if you give them as much notice of when you would like to take leave as pos­si­ble.

If you want New Year off then let them know now, not on De­cem­ber 27 and cer­tainly not on Jan­uary 1!

Next, if an em­ployee works a statu­tory day such as Christ­mas, Box­ing Day, Jan­uary 1 and 2 or the trans­fer­able days, they are en­ti­tled to be paid at time and a half of the hours worked.

What of­ten hap­pens on a farm is that just the ba­sics get done, the things that have to be done each day, that is, milk­ing, shed clean, cows in pas­ture, feed and checked.

Of­ten this is only a half- day’s work or maybe two thirds of a day.

What the em­ployer can do then is noth­ing, just leave the day’s pay un­changed. Why?

Two thirds of a day’s work x 1.5 = a full day’s pay. So there is no need for a change in the usual pay. How­ever if they work a full day the pay will need to be ad­justed.

The em­ployee does also get an­other day in lieu, which they can take at an­other time – with the em­ployer’s agree­ment. If not taken within a year this can be paid out with the em­ployee’s agree­ment.

To avoid con­flict I rec­om­mend that all farm em­ploy­ees com­plete daily timesheets and get these signed off by the em­ployer.

Then there are re­lief staff. With hol­i­days of­ten comes the need to find re­lief staff for ev­ery­thing from the oc­ca­sional milk­ing to find­ing staff to cover a hol­i­day pe­riod.

These staff do re­quire an em­ploy­ment agree­ment. Yes, even ca­sual staff re­quire a ca­sual em­ploy­ment agree­ment.

These staff do not get a day in lieu for a statu­tory day as it is not a reg­u­lar work­ing day for that em­ployee for you, so that is prob­lem one elim­i­nated. But they do get paid time and a half and as a gen­uine ca­sual em­ployee they also get paid hol­i­day pay at eight per cent on top of what they earn as they go or at their fin­ish date if it was a short­term con­tract. This must be de­tailed in the em­ploy­ment agree­ment and shown as a sep­a­rate item on the payslip.

This year Christ­mas and New Year’s Day fall on a Tues­day and Box­ing Day and Jan­uary 2 fall on a Wed­nes­day. As they all fall on week­days the statu­tory hol­i­days are ob­served on the ac­tual days.

If an em­ployee would usu­ally work on the Tues­day and/ or Wed­nes­day and still works on these days they are en­ti­tled to be paid at time and a half for the time they work plus given a day in lieu at an­other date.

If you hire some­one to work on these days and they are not their nor­mal work­ing days for you (that is, they would not nor­mally work for you on a Tues­day or a Wed­nes­day) they still need to be paid time and a half for the hours worked but you do not need to give them any days in lieu.

John Bros­nan

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