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Summer Holiday Workers Reminded of Employment Rights

MEDIA release
10 January 2013
Summer Holiday Workers Reminded of Their Employment Rights

With the number of people employed in temporary work during the summer holidays, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is reminding employees to be aware of their rights.

“Summer is a time when many people, including students, pick up temporary jobs to see them through the holiday break,” says the Ministry’s Acting General Manager Labour Inspectorate, George Mason.

“It’s important that they, and their employers, are aware of their rights when it comes to pay, leave, breaks and minimum wage,” Mr Mason says.

The adult minimum wage is $13.50 an hour. It is a legal requirement for workers to be paid for the hours they work. This includes where a person is paid ‘piece rates’ which are standard in the horticultural sector (especially fruit picking by bin or vine pruning by bay). These rates must equate to at least the minimum wage for the hours worked.

There is also no allowance for ‘unders and overs’ to balance out. It is important, therefore, that employers keep accurate records of the hours each employee works.

“This does not need to be complex and can be as simple as a log book or diary where each employee’s daily hours, including start and finish times, are written down,” said Mr Mason.

“It’s also a legal requirement for all workers to have a written employment agreement, setting out their days and hours of work, their pay and their entitlements. This legal requirement applies for every employee – even temporary or casual staff. Employers are liable to penalties if they do not ensure all employees have written employment agreements.” Mr Mason says.

In terms of breaks – employees are entitled to at least two ten minute paid breaks and one thirty minute unpaid meal break when they work more than six and up to eight hours. Other entitlements apply to those who work for shorter periods.

“There are also requirements around public holidays and when they are observed. The Ministry strongly urges all employees and employers to ensure they are aware of what is required,” says Mr Mason.

“Every employee who works on a public holiday is entitled to time and a half and an alternative day off, if it is an otherwise working day.

Every employee must receive paid holidays. This is either four weeks paid holiday a year (pro-rated for employees taken on for less than a year) or 8% of gross earnings. Holiday pay can be included as part of each pay for fixed term or irregular and intermittent work. If an employer chooses to do this it increases the minimum wage to $14.58 per hour. In this case, an employer is legally obliged to maintain pay records that clearly identify the inclusive rate of pay component, and must set out the arrangement in an employment agreement that the employee agrees with and signs.

MBIE has developed a holidays and leave tool (http://dol.govt.nz/holidaytool/) so everyone can work out employee entitlements. This will be particularly useful to those who work shift patterns or do not work a usual Monday to Friday week.

ENDS

Notes to Editor
• More information on employment agreements can be found online: http://dol.govt.nz/er/minimumrights/agreements.asp
• For information on breaks, visit: http://dol.govt.nz/er/minimumrights/breaks.asp
• Information on public holiday entitlements is also online: http://dol.govt.nz/er/holidaysandleave/index.asp


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