Make the most of the holiday period
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.