Dairy Audit results unacceptable

Media Release
1 April 2015

Federated Farmers is disappointed in the findings released today by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment in their compliance operation.

Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair, says “It is not a great look for our industry to have this number of dairy farmers not meeting the minimum employment requirements. This is why Federated Farmers has and will continue to focus on this area.”

“MBIE inspectors targeted some of the farmers who were known to have existing employment compliance concerns, while others were random, so ratios of compliance cannot be generalised to dairy farmers at large.  But this does not take away the stern reminder of where the industry is at or our motivation to achieve the task we have set ourselves to get the whole industry to achieve above minimum standards.”

“We have a significant hurdle ahead of us in terms of attracting the next generation into the industry. To me it is not just about meeting the minimum compliance under the law, but changing perceptions of the dairy industry as a career. This means we need to change the reality on some farms in a number of situations.”

Hoggard says lifting employment standards is a high priority for the Federation which has developed industry standard employment contracts and tools, such as the time and wage records, all at heavily discounted rates for members.

“The support for farmers is out there, Federated Farmers has its 0800 number along with top notch, low cost contracts for members, and DairyNZ has fantastic resources available free to levy payers.”

Federated Farmers has been taking its support on the road holding Employment Compliance Workshops’ that cover what MBIE’s minimum standards are.

“The high farmer turnouts have been encouraging, so we are looking to set up more.”

“Federated Farmers wants to take the industry well above just being compliant. That’s why we’ve been developing a Workplace Accord with DairyNZ and other industry stakeholders.”

“The Accord is about setting goals for the industry to achieve quality work environments through helping farmers implement good people management practices.”

“While there have been some aspects of employment practices that were once considered standard, things have changed and we need to change with them. However the expectation that all staff should have an employment agreement has been around for well over 20 years now so there is no excuse for not having one.”

“Failure here will not only put your business into employment law quicksand, but will cost you in productivity. It was interesting to note that those farmers who were using the IMS, MYOB and I Payroll systems were all fully compliant. So the message also goes out to those firms that provide accountancy solutions to farmers to ensure their products are as modern and easy to use as they can be.“

“Federated Farmers has industry standard contracts and agreements that include comprehensive notes on the minimum wage, holidays act, seasonal averaging, accommodation and the like.  It is also written in plain-English for farmers too. So there are systems that will help farmers stay on the right side of the law.”

“I have seen a lot of progress made, but we have a long way to go yet. Dairy farmers need to take this as a reminder about what is expected of them.

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