Make the most of the hol­i­day pe­riod

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery - By STEW WADEY

This year is nearly done and dusted, but the best part of the year is yet to come.

The Christ­mas school hol­i­day pe­riod is the sig­nal for us to un­wind from the year’s chal­lenges. It is im­por­tant to get away with fam­ily and friends, even if only for a few days.

Although the pri­mary pro­duc­tion farm­ing out­look for most of 2015 is not good read­ing, I am sure home­work and plan­ning and the in­evitable graft that is re­quired will yet again show the world New Zealand ru­ral folk are a for­mi­da­ble bunch.

The year has been quite busy for me, with the most common is­sue pre­sented to Mata­mata Feds be­ing em­ploy­ment is­sues. Mem­bers with such is­sues are di­rected to our Fed­er­a­tion em­ploy­ment team for le­gal ad­vice. I am as­tounded that many em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tions no mat­ter whether full­time or part- time have no em­ploy­ment con­tract in place, which is a le­gal re­quire­ment and the onus is on the em­ployer to have a con­tract in place. The Min­istry of Business, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment’s Labour in­spec­torate is vis­it­ing dairy farms through­out the coun­try to check com­pli­ance with min­i­mum em­ploy­ment rights. The vis­its are part of a long-term op­er­a­tion to iden­tify breaches of em­ploy­ment law, par­tic­u­larly re­gard­ing com­pli­ance with min­i­mum wage dur­ing the busy times. The in­spec­tors will also be check­ing that farmer em­ploy­ers are keep­ing ac­cu­rate time and wage records. Fed­er­ated Farm­ers has re­minded its mem­bers to make sure their staff are filling in time sheets and to en­sure their hourly rate does not fall be­neath the min­i­mum wage of $ 14.25 per hour. All em­ploy­ees must have a signed em­ploy­ment con­tract, hol­i­day and leave records, and de­tailed time and wage records for work­ers with vari­able hours. Em­ploy­ees on salary pack­ages tell me they had worked out their wage rate for this spring at less than $8 an hour. I re­ferred them to MBIE, Labour depart­ment Hamil­ton of­fice.

Some vis­its to farms have been un­der­taken by MPI As­sur­ance and Mon­i­tor­ing Direc­torate staff, with farms se­lected on a ran­dom ba­sis. The farm au­dit vis­its were part of an MPI sys­tems au­dit look­ing at the sta­tus of im­ple­men­ta­tion and com­pli­ance of the NAIT scheme. There were also vis­its to sa­le­yards and meat pro­ces­sors. The pur­pose was to de­ter­mine the level of farm­ers – and other Per­son’s in Charge of An­i­mals (PICA’s) – com­pli­ance with their NAIT scheme obli­ga­tions. The au­dit vis­its are not tar­geted where NAIT non- com­pli­ances have pre­vi­ously been iden­ti­fied.

So back to the sea­son of good will. A merry Christ­mas and all the best for 2015.

- Stew Wadey is Mata­mata Dis­trict Fed­er­ated Farm­ers chair­man.

STEW WADEY

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