Stores warned on unpaid overtime
Retailers accused of not paying overtime to waged staff members have been sent a strong word from the Government.
Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the retailers, outed by a union on Wednesday, must make sure they pay employees properly.
‘‘My message to employers is make sure you know your obligations as employers,’’ Lees-Galloway said. ‘‘Make sure you’re taking care of your staff.’’
First Union had received 1500 complaints from workers at more than a dozen of New Zealand’s largest retailers since an Employment Court decision ordered Smiths City to back-pay staff.
Smiths City had failed to pay its staff for 15-minute sales meetings at the beginning of shifts over a period of eight years.
The union released a list naming and shaming other offenders on Wednesday.
It included Kmart, Briscoes, Rebel Sport, Countdown, Pak’n Save, Cotton On, Farmers, Whitcoulls, The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationary, Noel Leeming and Harvey Norman.
More retailers complained about were yet to be named.
Hundreds of the complaints alleged workers were not paid for preparing a store before it opened, or for cleaning or cashing up the till after closing.
Lees-Galloway said if the allegations were true, ‘‘these employers are in breach of the law’’.
Senior management at Briscoe Group, which owns Briscoes, Rebel Sport and Living & Giving, investigated complaints laid against it on Wednesday.
After auditing all of its stores it found that some sales staff were not paid for the time they spent cashing up when a store closed because it was not included in their timesheet.
A Briscoes spokesman said it was a company ‘‘error’’ and the staff affected would be back-paid.
The Warehouse Group, owner of The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationary, Noel Leeming and Torpedo7, said its sales staff were paid for every hour they worked.
Progressive Enterprises, which owns Countdown supermarkets, and its competitor Foodstuffs, owner of Pak’n Save and New World, both said staff were paid for all time worked.
James Pascoe Group owns Farmers and Whitcoulls. Its director, Kevin Turner, said it was company policy for staff to be paid for meetings.
Cotton On Group’s New Zealand country manager, Kelly Ashford, said yesterday that the company had launched a full inquiry ‘‘to ensure our workplace policies are being adhered to’’ after it was contacted by Stuff and First Union on Wednesday.
Cotton On Group owns Cotton On, Cotton On Kids, Cotton On Body, Rubi, Typo, Factorie and Supre. Its parent company is Australian conglomerate Wesfarmers.
Harvey Norman, owned by Australia’s Harvey Norman Holdings, has been approached for comment.
First Union retail secretary Tali Williams said all the companies that were complained about were sent an email from the union asking them to investigate staff complaints.
Legal action could be taken if they refused to co-operate, she said.
Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says if retail workers’ allegations prove to be true, 12 of New Zealand’s largest retailers are breaking the law.