The Labour Inspectorate and Immigration New Zealand found increased employment and immigration compliance in the West Coast following visits to businesses in the region last week.
The visits form part of the Inspectorate’s and INZ’s proactive work to ensure businesses are following the law when it comes to employees’ minimum workplace standards and visa conditions.
Labour Inspectorate regional manager Jeanie Borsboom says, “The visits demonstrate that businesses appear to be taking a step in the right direction when it comes to their employment obligations. We’re seeing that employers are now accepting that breaching employment standards is simply not acceptable, not only for their staff but also for their reputation.”
The teams visited 21 businesses across Greymouth, Whatoroa, Hari Hari and Westport, a number of which had been previously visited by the Inspectorate in February and March 2017.
Both agencies say they’re pleased to see businesses are for the most part doing the right thing when it comes to employment and immigration responsibilities.
“We focussed on businesses we took enforceable actions on previously to ensure ongoing compliance, as well as checking a number of others for the first time,” says Ms Borsboom.
Labour Inspectors found one instance of an employer not providing employment agreements, and one employer previously fined in the Employment Relations Authority that has ceased employing people.
The Inspectorate’s initial visits in 2017 included 48 businesses in the West Coast resulting in 27 businesses followed up for potential employment law breaches.
Immigration New Zealand assistant general manager Compliance and Border Operations Peter Devoy says, “We were pleased to see compliance had lifted in the region however there were still two people found in breach of their visa conditions.”
“Seasonal tourism activities in the region mean high levels of temporary, casual and migrant workers, creating potential for increased employment and immigration law breaches,” says Mr Devoy.
The West Coast has high levels of businesses that rely on transient and temporary labour and all workers whether casual, part-time or temporary, must receive their basic employment rights.
Employers must provide workers with an employment agreement , pay the correct holiday pay, ensure record keeping is up to date and that their staff are lawfully able to work under the Immigration Act.
Businesses found without employment records could be fined $1000 per employee up to $20,000 and be prohibited from sponsoring visas to recruit migrant labour.
Employers convicted of employing migrants who are not entitled to work or exploit temporary or unlawful migrants is liable to a prison sentence of up to seven years, a fine not exceeding $100,000, or both.
“Businesses also need to remember the price to pay is more than what’s in the bank. It can mean damaging reputational issues for businesses which don’t go away easily,” says Ms Borsboom.
MBIE encourages anyone who has information about minimum standards or visa conditions not being met to phone the Ministry’s service centre on 0800 20 90 20, where all concerns will be handled in a safe environment.