Job complaints soar

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The seamy side of Queenstown’s job scene surfaces daily at the Citizens Advice Bureau.

The CAB gets “a steady stream of employment problems”, spokesperson Betty Hanan says.

There were almost 400 employment-related enquiries in 2014, she says - averaging about eight a week.

Hanan: “We see people who have never had a contract [or] employment agreement or a payslip, problems with holiday pay and leave entitlements, and enquiries about hours of work and bullying.”

Asked which business sectors feature strongly in CAB complaints, Hanan says: “In my own personal experience, I’d say restaurants, cafes and hotels.”

The CAB stresses its impartiality.

“We help employees and we help employers too,” Hanan says.

The CAB ran a public workshop on employment problems last Friday, particularly targeting new visitor and migrant workers.

Hanan: “We and nine other CABs around the country have been contracted by [the Business Ministry] to support people arriving to work in New Zealand - to try to make them feel at home and provide as much help as possible.”

Workers are “sometimes intimidated” by their limited English, Hanan says, “so they tell us their story [and CAB can] help them communicate” with enforcement authorities.

The CAB service is free and confidential.

Last August, the Ministry of Business inspectors investigated 41 resort businesses and found nearly half were breaching employment regulations.

Most breaches were in food and beverage outlets.

Hanan doesn’t know whether complaints referred by the CAB may have triggered the swoop: “We wouldn’t want to take any credit for that but we certainly hope it helped.”

The adult minimum wage goes from $14.25 to $14.75 per hour from April 1.

frank@scene.co.nz