Time records im­per­a­tive over Christ­mas

OPIN­ION

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY - By JOHN BROS­NAN, Coop­erAitken Ltd

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.

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