The Employment Relations Authority recently penalised a company operating a strawberry farm after the company failed to provide employment contracts and accurate leave records for its employees.

The Ministry of Business received a complaint from an employee who said they were not provided with an employment contract and were not being paid to the minimum wage threshold. The Ministry of Business instructed a labour inspector who carried out an investigation over a period of four months. The labour inspector made findings that at least five employees who worked on the farm were not provided with employment contracts, two of those employees had no holiday pay or leave records kept by the company.

The Authority considered a number of factors before imposing the $6,000 fine. These factors included the wishes of the employees, harm experienced by the employees as a result of the breaches, the nature of the breaches, the deterrence effect of the penalty, the remorse of the employer, and whether any of the penalty proceeds should be paid to the employees. 

In this case, one of the employees had requested to be kept off the record, and some employees were backpackers lodging free from expense at the farm, the authority found this to show that minimal harm was suffered for these breaches. The Authority did not find it necessary or appropriate to pay some of the portion of the fine to the employees.