Oh this is “clever”:
In March last year a Bunnings’ Warehouse in Wellington put out a letter to community groups, asking for help with its six-monthly stocktake.
The company offered them $12.50 an hour for each person who signed up – payment worded as a donation, not a wage. The current minimum wage is $14.25 an hour, rising to $14.75 at the start of April.
The volunteers would start at 4pm and work into the night, and they all had to be over 18. One of those who received the invitation was Louise Blair. The offer gave Bunnings cheap labour and let it flout employment rules, she said. …
Naturally Bunnings has a spin to put on it – that it is a “goodwill gesture” and an opportunity for “community groups”. Which might even be believable if (1) they paid the “volunteers” the same as staff, and (2) they didn’t have such an appalling record of exploiting their workers. (Bunnings are currently suspending staff from 29 shops who removed their branded aprons in a “low level” industrial protest).
The piece quoted above notes from an employment lawyer that “it was unclear whether the practice was legal or not, he said”. Better get it clarified soon or no doubt the practice of using “volunteers” will spread.