Time records imperative over Christmas
With Christmas and New Year here it is important to keep track of employee time records, especially with staff away on leave and relief and casual staff in and out of the farm.
However this shouldn’t just be a practice over Christmas. It really is a must nowadays on the farm.
Years ago nobody thought about keeping time records for staff on farms. Everyone accepted and understood that you agreed a wage for doing the job. You worked long and hard through calving and mating, and then picked up the swings of extra time off during the Summer and Autumn months. A whole variety of things have changed and for quite a while now (years in fact) employers have legally been required to keep accurate wage and holiday records. But the change to accept this and incorporate it in fully on the farm has been slow, possibly because in the rural community we still often feel a handshake is solid. Yet increasingly over the last few years employers have been taken through to mediations with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (the former Department of Labour) over wages issues – and the general rule is if the employer cannot prove themselves totally right they are wrong and will have a situation where they wind up paying over money.
A crucial point is hours of work on the farm. Generally speaking no one can work for less than the minimum wage, currently $13.75 per hour. So an easy way to work this out if you pay an employee $1,250.00 gross per week (inclusive of allowances), this employee cannot work more than 90.9 hours a week on farm. To work that out is quite easy – gross wage/minimum wage = maximum number of hours that employee can work per week.
This is especially an issue for newer entrant workers on the lower pay scales in the industry during the long hours involved in calving and mating. However last season this was also relevant later as the drought caused farmers to have to spend a lot more time getting supplement feed into livestock and the work levels did not ease off as they would in a season not affected by drought.
Along with this is the need to make sure that time off is accurately recorded including those quieter times where the staff knock off at lunch and don’t come back until milking.