Labour Inspectors have wide powers to investigate, inspect and issue enforcement notices under many laws on things such as holidays, equal pay, employment relations, minimum wages, wages protection, parental leave etc.

At a reasonable hour a Labour Inspector can enter any place where a person is employed, except a home.  To enter a home an Inspector needs a warrant. 

They have the power to interview anyone at the place of work including any employer or employee.

They can also require employers to produce all wage and time records and holiday/leave records plus any other documents deemed reasonably necessary to check compliance with labour laws.

They are allowed to take copies of any of the records and can require an employer to provide copies including of any employment agreements and draft agreements.

Anyone who obstructs or deceives an inspector can be liable to a fine of up to $10,000.

If an Inspector enters premises they must show their identification as a Labour Inspector and comply with all health and safety requirements of the workplace including staying out of parts of the premises with restricted access due to health and safety.

Inspectors can issue improvement notices to require compliance with the labour laws.  This needs to specify the relevant section to be complied with, the reasons for believing they are not being followed, the steps the employer could take to ensure compliance and the date they must be done by.

Employers have 28 days to object to the notice with the Employment Relations Authority.  Labour Inspectors can also ask the ERA to issue a compliance order to enforce the improvement notice.

Demand notices can also be issued for unpaid wages, holiday pay or other money due.  Employers have seven days to comment on the demand notice.  Once again an employer has 28 days to object to the notice to the ERA.

Inspectors can also issue infringement notices for failure to keep records of up to $1,000 per offence.

If Inspectors find further breaches after an initial visit then they prosecute employers for any later offices so it pays to get your paper work in order.

Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer