How do you fare at your place?
Most of us take for granted the processes and procedures around employing people, and what is the beginning of an employment relationship – which is of course a legal relationship - between an employer and an employee. Under the Employment Relations and Holidays Acts, employers and employees each have obligations to each other, and often it’s all too easy to overlook some of the fundamentals.
As another vintage is not far away, it is a busy time with the lead up to the onslaught and it is a timely reminder as to some of the basics. For some of you the last of your vintage staff are being recruited and for all wine industry employers, the plans and processes for receiving 2016 crews are being dusted off in readiness.
1. When receiving applications, are they all acknowledged and in a timely fashion? The biggest
complaint we hear from jobseekers is that they don’t hear from wineries once they have sent their
2. Are unsuccessful applicants advised promptly so they can keep applying for other jobs and know
one way or the other how they have got on with you?
3. All employees must have a written employment agreement no matter what their type of work
(yes, even causals). Have all successful candidates received the appropriate employment
agreements in advance of their starting with you? eg fixed term for the likes of the overseas staff
or seasonal casual for those who work off and on during the growing season.
4. If a trial period clause is included in an employment agreement, the agreement must be signed
before the worker starts work, otherwise the trial period clause will be invalid.
5. If employment goes on beyond the fixed term, ensure an employment agreement is in place to
cover the extra period of employment.
Employee records must be kept for all workers and made available to employees, their Unions (if
applicable) and the Ministry's Labour Inspectors if they ask for them. They can be kept in electronic
or paper files and must be kept for six years. Records kept must include (among other things)
contact details, type of employment, wage, time, holiday and leave records. A handy checklist of
just what employers must record for all their employees is available at http://employment.govt.nz/er/pay/recordkeeping
7. A vintage/harvest worker’s visa must be valid to work for you. A copy of their visa must be kept
on file. It is illegal to employ them if their visa expires – employers must be sure they are not
employing people on expired or incorrect visas. There are penalties for breaches.
8. The Privacy Act establishes a set of 12 principles to protect a person’s personal privacy. Principle 10
requires that any agency that holds personal information should not keep that information for
longer than is required for the purposes for which the information may lawfully be used. Therefore
unsuccessful applicants’ CV’s should be destroyed within a reasonable time after the recruitment
process has been completed.
9. Public Holidays - are you paying your vintage workers correctly? Easter falls within the harvest
period for most wineries in 2016. Any person who works on a public holiday is entitled to be paid
time and a half for the hours they work and, if the public holiday would otherwise have been a
working day for the person, they will also be entitled to an additional paid day off.
The Holidays Act 2003 addresses the public holiday entitlements for employees in a number of
work patterns where entitlements are unclear, including employees working shifts, employees on
call, and whether a day would “otherwise be a working day”.
Most modern payroll systems will assist in these calculations.
10. Where international vintage workers drive forklifts, do they have a NZ Fork Lift Licence and have
they received sufficient training?
11. Health and Safety
The all important health and safety briefing - Is there an induction process in place for all workers?
Ensure there is an Orientation plan including site plan, site hazards and emergency plan as part of
your workplace health and safety management. The new Health and Safety at Work Act takes
effect 4 April – right in the middle of vintage for most wineries. Do be sure you know what your
Are the Standard Operating Procedures in place and training records available to be signed by each
vintage worker for each piece of equipment or task - particularly for all machinery (vineyard or
winery), working at heights, confined spaces? Don’t forget about your permanent staff as a
refresher is vital for them as well.
And, do be aware of the danger of the hazard of fatigue – it needs to be managed so that no
accidents occur because of tired workers who haven’t been given the opportunity to take breaks.
Sounds daunting? These are basic requirements for employers and should not be overlooked. The time of
your pre-vintage checks and procedures offers a great opportunity to be sure everything is in order for a safe and successful vintage at your place.