Name and shame bad employers

June 13th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Businesses that breach employment standards could be “named and shamed” under Government proposals.

Some employers could also face jail sentences, steep fines, bans on doing business or seizure of equipment.

The options are laid out in a paper released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Labour Minister Simon Bridges wants to crack down on migrant worker exploitation.

About 17 per cent of employees report that they are not getting one of more of the minimum legal entitlements, including holiday entitlement, minimum wage or having an employment agreement.

The Labour Inspectorate says it is seeing growing evidence of “more serious and intentional” breaches, such as the exploitation of migrant workers and vulnerable groups.

In a discussion document, the ministry proposes a series of tougher sanctions.

It says current penalties – a maximum $10,000 fine for an individual and $20,000 for a company – are not high when used.

Between January 2008 and March 2013, labour inspectors took 69 cases to the Employment Relations Authority, and the average penalty was $2826.

Officials are canvassing opinion on the options, which include naming and shaming businesses that breach standards.

This would be for those who deliberately breach the law with “serious and harmful effects” or those who commit “moderate to serious” breaches. A similar policy was adopted in Britain in 2011.

Another option would extend financial penalties to deter unlawful behaviour and to ensure there is no financial gain from non-compliance.

Fines would also be targeted at individuals to stamp out “phoenixing” – when directors wind up a company and begin another to avoid enforcement.

I support all of these.

Most employers are good employers who treat staff well.

There are a small minority who are exploitative, especially of migrants. They breach labour and human rights laws. I think we do need to be tougher with the very bad employers.

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28 Responses to “Name and shame bad employers”

  1. EAD (1,072 comments) says:

    We already know the names to shame, idiots like Clark & Key for their socially destructive immigration policies that allows such low-value economic migrants into the country in order to be “exploited” (gee does anyone else think that is a highly Marxist turn of phrase coming from a so called “right-wing” Politician?)

    BTW – our Political Elite have kept telling us that all these migrants are “highly-skilled” and adding to our “knowledge economy” and “paying taxes to support us in our old age”. How does this square with this “exploitation” narrative or is the former the propaganda and the latter the reality?

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  2. duggledog (1,555 comments) says:

    I’d say most bad employers exploiting immigrants are recent immigrants as well. As someone once said on this blog, you import enough third world immigrants, you become third world.

    The key line above is ‘could face jail terms, fines’. Oooooh scary!

    Doesn’t scare them one jot. New immigrants know how unlikely it is they will actually face any kind of meaningful punishment for their misdeeds. Rather, a bit of community service, home D, ‘supervision’. Look at how the illegal trade in paua, crays etc continues, the trade is carried on by Asians mainly, at most they know they might lose a car or something

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  3. ShawnLH (4,998 comments) says:

    “in order to be “exploited” (gee does anyone else think that is a highly Marxist turn of phrase coming from a so called “right-wing” Politician?)”

    No. Exploitation of the vulnerable is a reality sadly, and pointing it out, or wanting to combat it, is neither Right wing nor Left wing, let alone Marxist, just plain decency.

    NZ’s immigration policy over the last couple of decades has been very moderate, certainly not “socially destructive.”

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  4. louie (96 comments) says:

    I guess Phillip Fields will be first on the list.

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  5. Keeping Stock (10,337 comments) says:

    Would this provision apply to employers who deduct PAYE from their staff then fail, for eighteen months on either side of an election, to pass that on to the IRD as required by law?

    Here’s looking at you Matt…

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  6. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    Would this provision apply to employers who deduct PAYE from their staff then fail, for eighteen months on either side of an election, to pass that on to the IRD as required by law?

    No. It’s a tax matter between the employer and the IRD. However, I am heartened by your enthusiasm for having the IRD crack down harder on people who weasel out of paying taxes…

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  7. Dead Earnest (160 comments) says:

    I support these measures as long as there is a fair and robust process before persons a names and shamed. If the government can take a firm position to deter exploitation it will mean less people will feel compelled to join a union which – as KS discreetly observes above – steals their staff’s PAYE.

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  8. big bruv (13,884 comments) says:

    Name and Shame bad employers.

    Right, first on the list should be the Labour party, the doors of that office seem to revolve with every increasing speed. BTW, what is Fran Mould doing these days?

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  9. Harriet (4,969 comments) says:

    NZ needs current levels of immigration to maintain it’s current wealth in housing – because if that crashes it all crashes. A stable economy pays off debt, an unstable one increases it. It’s just the way it is at the moment – play it safe.

    The ability of the immigrant help pays it off even quicker again.

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  10. Nigel Kearney (1,012 comments) says:

    I’m sure I have read on this blog that prohibition doesn’t work because people ignore it and a black market develops. The government has made it illegal to pay unskilled workers what they are worth. The consequences are similar and predictable.

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  11. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    “About 17 per cent of employees report that they are not getting one of more of the minimum legal entitlements, including holiday entitlement, minimum wage or having an employment agreement.”

    Why am I cynical about this number? 1 in 6 employees? That seems excessive even allowing for the fact that this included not having a written agreement (by definition working for someone and getting paid automatically constitutes an agreement).

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  12. RRM (9,917 comments) says:

    Excellent.

    When I ask my really hard leftie mates why exactly they don’t like Key and claim he can’t be trusted, they usually umm and aah and the nearest they can get to specifics is a mention of “labour laws” and or “workers’ rights”.

    So this is a smart move. Capture one of their few talking points and make it National’s own, by doing something positive that left and right alike should like.

    Just like the elite teachers thing did.

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  13. tvb (4,418 comments) says:

    More Labour lite policies. But bad employers do provide oxygen for the Unions to condemn good policies that are working.

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  14. prosper (164 comments) says:

    We need to be careful about even more regulation. Several years ago I was surprised to find that it was my responsibility to ask to see my staff’s passports to ensure that they were kiwis, residents or had a valid working visa. I would have thought it was immigrations responsibility to monitor visas and expiry dates. Yet another job the government palms off to the employer like collecting student loan repayments, child support payments, maintenance, ACC levies, paye and so on.

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  15. Dead Earnest (160 comments) says:

    Actually in thinking about it, it is another political masterstroke by National.
    1. Show they actually care for workers
    2. Therefore a foray into Labour’s constituency.
    3. Yet does it in a way that doesn’t abdicate power to Unions.
    National will only win if they take the swinging voters in the centre. This is the way to do it!

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  16. RRM (9,917 comments) says:

    Dead Earnest – exactly!

    Labour’s comeback will have to be either a flippant dismissal of this (which makes them look like they’ve got no ideas of their own) or, more likely judging by their recent form, some crazy extreme policy that they will have to raise taxes for…

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  17. Nostalgia-NZ (5,193 comments) says:

    All good in theory. But it remains most of these workers accept their pay as it is, have loyalty to their employers because of family reasons and may be reasonably happy with their lot compared to being unemployed or wages in their country of origin. This is going into the territory of telling employers and employees from different cultures that they can’t work 60 to 70 hour weeks when in fact they may wish to do that, or expect to do so. It also ignores the fact that if an employee isn’t happy they can simply walk out the door. I expect part of the reason many immigrants do well here is because of their attitude to work and remuneration – I say let them go, too hard to police anyway and too intrusive.

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  18. Ed Snack (1,872 comments) says:

    Name and “shame” ? But if they are cheaper providers of contract labour they will continue to get plenty of business, and shame is a very relative term. Some may even treat it as advertizing, showing people how cheap they can be. Not sure how effective it can be, a conventional enforcement campaign that has people actually checking on suspect employers might be more cost effective.

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  19. Simon (720 comments) says:

    National party setting up the Stasi.

    Employees are free to move jobs. However as the State has outlawed some jobs (through min wage) there will be still people prepared to will work for $10 ph but they operate outside the system. The are made vulnerable by the State in the first place.

    Mininium wages has caused the unlawfulness to occur and promote bad employer behavour.

    Worse these National party cunts dont understand how the left will expand the Stasi role beyond “bad employers” into other areas that they disapprove of. Think of the cluster fuck RMA and what the left have done with this.

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  20. Ryan Sproull (7,115 comments) says:

    “in order to be “exploited” (gee does anyone else think that is a highly Marxist turn of phrase coming from a so called “right-wing” Politician?)”

    No. Exploitation of the vulnerable is a reality sadly, and pointing it out, or wanting to combat it, is neither Right wing nor Left wing, let alone Marxist, just plain decency.

    NZ’s immigration policy over the last couple of decades has been very moderate, certainly not “socially destructive.”

    Shawn, consider the down votes on your comment as a kind of sanity detector.

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  21. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    @ slijmbal
    Probably Unionists not getting their tea breaks?

    I definitely feel there needs to be strong efforts to avoid Phoenixing.

    Of course what they omit to say is that the employers taking advantage of migrant workers are usually migrants themselves…

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  22. Ryan Sproull (7,115 comments) says:

    Actually in thinking about it, it is another political masterstroke by National.
    1. Show they actually care for workers
    2. Therefore a foray into Labour’s constituency.
    3. Yet does it in a way that doesn’t abdicate power to Unions.
    National will only win if they take the swinging voters in the centre. This is the way to do it!

    This is true.

    In fact, a socialist would say that by highlighting and condemning “exploitative employers”, they’re making unthinkable the non-politically correct notion that the owner-worker relationship is inherently exploitative. But that’s not intentional on their part – it’s as unthinkable to them as it is to anyone else raised in our capitalist education system.

    (Cue Redbaiter in five, four, three…)

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  23. Dave Mann (1,218 comments) says:

    I think its time we stopped calling the Nats ‘Labour Lite’. The true description is ‘Commie Lite’.They have destroyed the union movement (which, for alll its faults, at least protected workers from excessive exploitation) and now the bastards are looking to make this a function of government instead. Soon we’ll be living in a totalitarian state with the smirking prick Key overseeing every part of our lives. The main reason that unskilled immigrant workers are here in the first place is because the fucking gummint gives New Zealanders shitloads of money to sit on their arses instead of working for a living. Geez…. can’t people see what’s going on?

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  24. Tom Barker (143 comments) says:

    “the union movement (which, for alll its faults, at least protected workers from excessive exploitation)”

    “excessive exploitation” – I like that. So “low to medium exploitation” is fine by you? Even admirable?

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  25. Dave Mann (1,218 comments) says:

    Yes Tom, exactly! Thanks :-D

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  26. Tom Barker (143 comments) says:

    Come and work for me as my housekeeper, Mr Mann. I undertake to exploit you only moderately. I’m sure you’ll appreciate that.

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  27. Kelvin Kubala (9 comments) says:

    I wonder where Krim Dot Con’s Party would side in this? Maybe they might push for a special exemption for multi-millionaires or for Germans with a criminal record?

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  28. dirty harry (483 comments) says:

    Wander in to any Indian , Thai , Chinese restaurant and I bet you not one single employer is paying their ( all imported ) staff the correct wage. I know personally a couple of imported chefs who are being royally shafted by their scumbag bosses.
    Its been going on for years…Ive notified the useless Dept of Labour many times but they are tied up in so much gobbly de gook pc claptrap that they are toothless.

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