Audit: Employment standards breaches

Wednesday 6 Dec 2017

Forestry audit reveals 'widespread' breaches in employment standards - Up to 59 per cent of the forestry industry may be breaching employment standards and that may not even be the full extent of it, according to a Government audit of the some regions of the sector.

Labour inspectors from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment carried out audits of 34 forestry contractors across the North Island this year and found 20 of them didn't comply with at least one employment standard.

Data from the audit, obtained by Stuff, revealed breaches were "widespread" within the forestry industry and of even greater concern was that further breaches of minimum employment standards were "likely to be hiding" due to "poor recording".

Forestry Minister Shane Jones has sent a warning to the industry saying it didn't end well for employers in the fishing industry "who were either oblivious to their legal obligations or took their employees for granted".

The breaches include employees being paid less than minimum wage, not being paid the correct holiday entitlements or the right public holiday pay.

Others included employers not keeping accurate time, wage or holiday records or having written employment agreements with all employees.

Jones said while the safety record in the forestry sector had improved from the "bleak times of five or six years ago" there was still a "long way to go" with getting the basics right.

That meant greater investment in the "safety culture" and training was needed.

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(Editor's note: The original reporting mentioned up to 90% breach. We have edited to reflect numbers reported: 20 of 34 companies audited is 59%.)

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