Stores warned on un­paid over­time

The Southland Times - - Business - Madi­son Reidy madi­son.reidy@stuff.co.nz

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.

DAVID UNWIN/STUFF

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.

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