Wages, calves and a doggy disaster

April 18 2017

In this article we’ve got three important updates for the rural community concerning the care of people, animals and farm property. Take a moment to look over these items if you employ staff, breed cattle, or have tenants in farm accommodation.

Have you reviewed minimum wages?

Every year, the government reviews the minimum wage. From 1 April 2017 the adult minimum wage was increased from $15.25 per hour to $15.75 per hour. The starting out and training minimum wage increased from $12.20 per hour to $12.60 per hour.

It’s important you review all wage and salary structures to make sure your employees are paid at least minimum wage for all the hours they have worked. Even though work fluctuates on a farm throughout the year, you must pay your employees at least the applicable minimum wage rate for any hours worked at all times. This is also the case for salary workers.

If you haven’t addressed this yet, you will have to top up employees’ pay to back date any hours you have missed. It’s always worth remembering that you must also keep and maintain accurate time and wage records as a legal requirement.

More changes to bobby calf regulations

You may recall our article covering the new regulations for young calves that were introduced and took effect from 1 August 2016. On 1 February 2017, a new regulation came into force. Bobby calves are now to be fed at least once in the 24 hours before slaughter, a reduction from 30 hours.

There are two more regulations coming into effect 1 August 2017:

  • You will have to provide suitable shelter for young calves before and during transportation, and at points of sale or slaughter.
  • You will have to provide and use loading and unloading facilities when young calves are transported for sale and slaughter. The facilities must be designed so a calf can walk on or off the transport.

Varying infringement fees may apply if you don’t follow these regulations.

An expensive dog’s business

Recently, the District Court overturned a controversial decision made by the Tenancy Tribunal, where a tenant’s dog ruined the carpets of a rental property. As many rural employers provide accommodation to staff as part of an employment package, this decision will be of interest.

The tenant’s dog was urinating on carpet in a rental property. The damage caused to carpets throughout the house was so bad they had to be replaced. The Tenancy Tribunal found the tenant wasn’t liable for the damage caused as it wasn’t intentional. However, the tenancy agreement stated no pets were allowed.

On appeal in the District Court, the decision was overturned and the tenant was ordered to pay for carpet replacement costs, court costs and lost rent. The judge’s view was that the Tenancy Tribunal adjudicator was wrong. Make sure your tenants are fully aware of the conditions of their tenancy agreement and speak to our rural lawyers if you need any advice.

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