In response to a number of minimum entitlement complaints and
cases involving serious breaches of workers' minimum
entitlements, the Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael
Woodhouse, has announced new penalties for employers who breach
The Minister said the changes are intended as an effort to stop
workers (particularly vulnerable and migrant workers) from being
exploited and to prevent employers getting an unfair advantage over
employers who abide by the law.
The focus of the proposals is on businesses that are not
currently meeting their obligations. They will face minor
compliance costs to become compliant and risk facing financial
penalties if they don't (with serious breaches resulting in
significantly higher penalties).
The Minister said the changes will include tougher sanctions,
increased tools for labour inspectors and clearer record keeping
For the most serious breaches, such as exploitation, cases will
be heard at the Employment Court and carry maximum penalties of
$50,000 for an individual and the greater of $100,000 or three
times the financial gain for a company.
Employers will be publically named if the Employment Relations
Authority or Employment Court find the employer has breached
Individuals will also face the possibility of being banned as
employers if they commit serious or persistent breaches of
People other than the employer may also be held liable. For
example, Payroll Officers and Advisors who are knowingly and
intentionally involved in contravention of the employment standards
provision, may be held liable for breaches of minimum
Record-keeping requirements for wages, time, holidays and leave
will be made consistent across all employment legislation.
There will be enhanced information sharing powers with other
regulators such as Immigration New Zealand, the Companies Office
and Inland Revenue.
Labour inspectors will be able to request any record or
document from employers that they consider will help them determine
whether a breach has occurred.
The Bill is expected to be introduced into Parliament this
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