• Are you meeting your employment obligations?

    One of our Lead Moderators, Anna Brown, posted this great topic earlier in the week into the General section of the forum. The topic of Employment is so relevant to today so have a look at some of these great websites, they're sure to help.

    Are there any other resources available to us Farmers to help us get it right? Or do you have any tips for other farmers? Feel free to add your suggestions and learnings.

    Unfortunately, there have been a few incidents in the media recently where farmer employers have been found to not be following the law when it comes to employing people.


    Fortunately, there are quite a few resources available to us as employers to help us get it right. Check out the links below:

    Employment NZ

    The Employment NZ website has had a revamp and is now a good place to start.


    Has some excellent information, especially around how to be compliant regarding timesheets, pay etc.

    how to recruit quality staff, be a better manager, work within the law, grow your people and more.
    create employment agreements, pay fair wages, meet health and safety requirements and manage staff leave and discipline.

    Beef & Lamb NZ

    The HR toolkit contains templates and resources for all kinds of staff management processes.
    If you don't employ staff there are practical tips on how to better manage your time.


    And of course, the IRD website has some good information as well (plus you can ring the helpline if you have specific queries regarding tax codes or something similar).

    Federated Farmers

    These guys are well known for having employment agreements available and a support line for its members when they have an employment relationship question or issue;

    And if you use the WageBook function in Cashmanager RURAL, you can check you are doing it correctly.

  • Comments

  • @Anna Hi Anna, in our experience we see only the larger farms taking this seriously. The large Corporate farms that have HR people on board are fully aware of the issue, most smaller farmers are still just paying a salary and we can not see any viability on what is actually happening on the farm, in fact, we even asked one to use our Online Portal for a month so we could see what actual hours were been worked and they refused.

    The corporates prefer a salary based solution as it helps a bit with budgeting but they are also topping up the payments in the busy months. From an employee point of view I feel they prefer a salary for the same reason.

    There are some great tools available now to help farmers with capturing Timesheets. A Demonstration Farm in Southland developed a Timesheets App for Dairy Farmers that allows staff to track the hours to specific tasks each day. This will also let the employer know if there is an issue around Hours Worked and their Gross Payment. I belive it is a free app at the moment. Details at - www.farmtime.co.nz

  • So given the importance of making sure hours are correctly recorded and paid for etc, are more farmers moving to having staff on hourly rates (rather than salary)? Do you think employees would prefer that? It certainly offers transparency and simplifies things, however there is always the argument that given the seasonality of many farms that employees on hourly rates would find the 'quiet' period financially difficult... thoughts?

  • Our question was specifically around the period the Min Pay calculations had to be done, for example, could we accrue all hours worked and at the end of the year do a tally up etc, the answer was specific that the calculations had to be done in the pay period the hours were worked.

    Of course there are two other options around how to meet the Minimum Pay requirements;

    • You just pay the minimum number of hours required to meet the calculation (total hours worked x Min Rate) and you then possibly accrue any additional hours

    • You just pay a dollar figure to top up the Gross to meet the requirements and again, accrue the extra hours worked for later usage.

  • @sharpesolutions a bigger issue for what the unions were picking up on and does affect pay calculations is the inclusion of realistic rents etc, often jobs are advertised without including the rent benefit as part of the package and makes the jobs look less value than they really are, as well as other FBT type benefits like firewood and some still providing a beast etc.

  • @Ezypay So not sure how the letter supports your statement, as the letter says your proposed payment would appear to be in breach of the Act. (without seeing your correspondence, its difficult to know what relevance the letter is) I do agree though with your outlined solution option, that so long as again minimum wage is reached for all hours worked within the period, then some of the pay can be held back to cover the periods when it does not cover it. This would have to be agreed to as you state. This should only really be an issue for some of the lower paid farm hands during periods such as calving. .

  • We are an Outsourced Payroll provider and have been asked many times around the Averaging of Hours and each time you call the MBEI helpdesk you got a different answer so we asked for a Ministerial Response around the issue.

    The answer provided by KowhaiCreek is correct in one respect in that it provides a solution to the issue.

    What we have also been told is that provided the Minimum Wage conditions have been met, then any additional hours worked can be accrued as Time in Lieu and paid out at a later date, if agreed to by both parties, but in all cases you must take the Gross Worked Pay and divide by total Worked Hours, per pay period, and ensure the employee is being paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked.

    I have purposely excluded Leave Transactions as these calculations are handled differently through the Holidays Act 2003.

    Attached is a copy of the Ministers response. 0_1476068157273_Response from MBEI.pdf

  • @KowhaiCreek and your accountant would be correct

  • Our guys are on a salary but still fill in timesheets which they hand in fortnightly. If their gross pay divided by the number of hours worked that fortnight is less than minimum wage ($15.25) they get topped up to make sure that within any given pay period they are not earning less than minimum wage - this is what our accountant told us to do and it's pretty straightforward.