Hundreds of thousands without written agreement

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Scores of New Zealand employers are being shamed by a recent survey after it was revealed over 170,000 workers are currently without a written employment agreement – despite it being a legal requirement.

The data – gathered for the first time by Statistics NZ – showed almost one in 10 employees do not have their terms and conditions in writing with casual and part-time employees worst affected.

One third of causal workers reported they had no written agreement and 17.4 per cent of part-time employees said the same – compared to just 6.4 per cent for full-time employees.

Certain industries also showed a tendency to overlook employment agreement with about 20 per cent of employees in forestry, fishing, and farming indicating they had no written agreement. Construction, accommodation and food services came a close second at around 15 per cent.

The most compliant industry was financial services, where fewer than five per cent of employees had no written employment agreement.

The survey also showed a distinct split when it came to seniority, age and union affiliation – while the rate was around 15 per cent for labourers, managers and professionals had a rate of between four and eight per cent.

Similarly, those aged younger than 30 were less likely to have a written agreement than older employees and only 2.4 per cent of union members had no agreement, compared with 10.4 per cent of non-union members.

Labour's workplace relations spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway said in some cases the breach was intentional but in most cases it was due to a "nonchalant" approach by employers.

He also reminded employers that, thanks to the recently-passed Employment Standards Act, the inspectorate can now impose fines of $1,000 for each breach up to a maximum of $20,000 over a three month period – plus extra for having no records.

"It can be a short sharp shock if the Labour Inspectorate turns up and these things are not in place,” he warned.

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