Tip of the iceberg

Written By: - Date published: 9:39 am, November 23rd, 2014 - 99 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, workers' rights - Tags:

Looks like exploiting petrol station workers by docking their pay for circumstances beyond their control was just the tip of the iceberg of this kind of behaviour. Today:

Checkout girls made to pay for theft

Checkout “girls”??

A supermarket boss told teenage checkout girls to fork out up to $700 when organised thieves walked off with full trolleys.

Pak ‘nSave has confirmed the wage-docking incident at its Whakatane store.

The mother of one of the Pak’nSave checkout girls said the company was “passing the buck” on to its least powerful workers. “Those sort of huge firms will just push you around and that’s just the way it is, they get away with it,” said the woman, who did not want to be named to protect her daughter from employment repercussions.

It will be a small subset of employers indulging in this kind of exploitation, but they all need to be named and shamed. If you’re in this position, now is the time to contact your friendly local media…

99 comments on “Tip of the iceberg”

  1. coaster 1

    I dont think this will be a small number of emplyers. I think they will have alot of things in common though, unskilled staff, low paid staff, staff scared about loosing there jobs, employers part of larger organisations weather its as owner operator or managers.

    I think youll find this is a big iceberg, and it will get played down as a few rouge employers by the pm.

  2. Lanthanide 2

    I’m a bit surprised this has been going on at the level it appears to have been. Having said that, I’m also surprised by the outrage of the public, as if this stuff is completely beyond the pale or unimaginable.

    For any employee in a franchise situation like this, I would have thought contacting head corporate office would set things right pretty quickly. And, immediately join the union, if you aren’t already.

    • Foreign waka 2.1

      You are not very familiar with the system in place are you?

      • Lanthanide 2.1.1

        Not really sure what “system” you’re talking about.

      • greywarshark 2.1.2

        @ Foreign Waka
        Lanthanide comes from another place and as you read his comments you notice the gap between the theoretical ideas so well embedded in him, and the real life as it is eked out below. Once you understand that, the surprise is less, though it is disturbing.

        • Foreign Waka 2.1.2.1

          @Lanthanide and gaywarshark, the system is such that the Pak and Save owner is also a shareholder of Foodstuffs and hence the designer of the process.

          • Lanthanide 2.1.2.1.1

            So?

            Just like in another business if you have a complaint or grievance, first take it to your supervisor. If they don’t address it to you satisfaction, you take it to their manager, and so-on up the chain.

            In the case of a franchisee, you take it to the franchise head-office. Obviously the level of power here is not analogous to the supervisor/manager path, but if we’re talking about a franchise we’re talking about a major chain, and these chains really don’t like bad publicity. Pretty easy to say “My wages were docked, I didn’t give written permission as is required by law. Please do something about it or I’ll go to the media”. Subsequently joining the union is to protect yourself against recrimination by your boss.

            • Foreign waka 2.1.2.1.1.1

              PaknSave are not franchises – they are privately owed businesses and Foodstuffs is a COOP of those businesses. Big difference.
              However, docking pay is unlawful no matter under which business umbrella.

              • Lanthanide

                Doesn’t change anything in any material way. Bad publicity for your brand when an employee goes to the media bad publicity, it doesn’t matter what the business umbrella is.

                • Foreign waka

                  Do you read what I write or do you just react for the sake of it?

                  • Lanthanide

                    Yes, I read what you wrote. You seem to be saying that because Pak’n’Sav doesn’t operate as a franchise that an employee using the threat of going to the media wouldn’t be enough to get Foodstuffs to intervene in the case. IMO that’s a strange position to take, so I replied.

                    • North

                      So, Lanthanide, are you concerned about the ‘substance’ of matters, viz. the powerful ripping off the weak, or is your concern to pettifog about ‘form’ and effectively question the importance of the ‘substance’.

                      Name and shame I say. I know that’s immoderate but hey, so are the actions of the greedy powerful when they rip off the weak!

            • AsleepWhileWalking 2.1.2.1.1.2

              Also pretty easy to say that there are no shifts available this week. Or next. or the next.

              I don’t think what you are saying is realistic in this instance.

              • Lanthanide

                Hence, join the union.

                And, if you’re having to pay $700 in stock losses due to theft, then it’s going to take 57 hours of after-tax minimum wage work to make up the $700. If you’re working full time (40 hours), that’s all of your wages for about 1 1/2 weeks of work, before you get any money to pay rent, bills, food etc. If you’re part-time, then obviously it’s a lot longer.

                Realistically it could eat up 3-4 months of your normal discretionary income to pay off such a hefty tax. I think that complaining to the corporate office, threatening to go public and then joining the union is the best road to take.

                What, exactly, is your alternative? Suck it up and pay the fine and carry on working for scumbags?

                • s y d

                  Assuming it’s after day 90, probably runs out like…..

                  Boss, you docked my pay for the drive off!
                  Yeah, so?
                  But it’s not my fault.
                  Your shift, suck it up. You signed the contract it’s all in there, black and white. If you don’t like it go and talk to Winz. Hahahaha.
                  I’m going to put this on facebook.
                  You’ll keep your head down if you know whats good for you. OK? Got that?

                  Oh yeah, one more thing, we’ll only need you for 12 hours next week and we’ll need you to cover for another 6 hours tonight.

                • minarch

                  any s**tbag that docked my pay would see incidences of “organised theft” f**king SKYROCKET….

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.2

      Yeah, Lanth. What did the general public expect? They voted to shit on their fellow citizens, after all.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.3

      For any employee in a franchise situation like this, I would have thought contacting head corporate office would set things right pretty quickly.

      Nope. I tried that as a manager at one franchise about theft from pay packets by the store manager and got absolutely no help from them at all.

      • nadis 2.3.1

        Did you call the police like a rational person?

      • nadis 2.3.2

        Here’s another thought too. Seems like these deductors are double dipping. If a customer steals $100 of goods. Employer deducts $100 from the staff member. Wholesale cost of goods is (say) $80. Employer claims $80 from turnover as slippage. Tax reduced by $22.4. Net benefit to employer of $42.4, whereas if he had sold the goods in the first place his net benefit was just $20. I suspect that $100 from the employer isn’t being reported as income…… And if it doesn’t come off the employees taxable income the employer is paying tax on money they didn’t get.

        I see some people blaming collusion between staff and drive offs. Simple solution. Call the police.

        This whole scenario is appalling. I would happily boycott any employer that does this. There is always plenty of choice. Given Gull’s lightweight corporate response I’d start with them.

        A useful role for the Standard would be to maintain a list of organisations that do this with some real examples and allow people to make an informed decision on a consumer boycott.

        • RedLogix 2.3.2.1

          Simple solution. Call the police.

          Which in practise is neither simple, nor much of a solution. Even if the cops turn up.

          • nadis 2.3.2.1.1

            They usually do when shop keepers call. Poor people in less salubrious areas, not so much.

            • RedLogix 2.3.2.1.1.1

              As I mentioned below, we lived in the Wairarapa for five years and I know the station concerned well. From that on the ground familiarity I have to say that your expectation that the cops will sort out a drive-off that took place in the middle of the night is – somewhat hopeful.

          • minarch 2.3.2.1.2

            “Even if the cops turn up.” They might after they finished laughing at you, but that will take a LOOONNNG time !

            A.C.A.B !

  3. Kiwiri - Raided of the Last Shark 3

    If I were a stingy, irresponsible supermarket boss and because I put my profits ahead of supermarket girls, I would at the very least employ a security boy at the exit.

    • BassGuy 3.1

      The way I see it, employing a security boy would cost money and would move the risk (and therefore responsibility) away from the checkout girls who then wouldn’t work quite as hard for minimum wage.

  4. Foreign waka 4

    This is the most disgusting. I wonder whether all of those stores mentioned are actually “franchisees” or on third party contracts that have to pay to a main company (Caltex, Foodstuffs and who knows who else) fees. The budget must be tight that once all “fees” are paid there is no way the proprietor can earn or get his/her ROI. Obviously, this seem to lead to some desperate action. Whakatane is a small town. They may see 20k T/O with a GP of 2k. Take $700 out of this and yes, desperation takes hold. Not that this is right, but the proprietor has a family too.
    I belief that there are 2 issues involved, a society that condones such behavior with the statement of too lower minimum pay (2 wrongs do not make 1 right) will see the money going back to those deserving more. Notwithstanding that they just take it from another poor sod, working 70 hrs per week no less.
    And a commerce sector washing their hands off the responsibility they have towards their business partner and the wider community (minimum wage).
    One should not forget in all that that the whole system is nothing else than bonded labor – from top to bottom.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 4.1

      The reality is that PaknSave format stores are allways large volume stores. Four Square is the lower turnover franchise.
      Even a small Dairy has turnover above 100k pa.
      So your tears for the poor owner are misguided.The owner was making half a million plus out of this store after expenses, just look up any business for sale guide!

      • Foreign Waka 4.1.1

        I don’t begrudge a store owner who invests 5 mil in stock and plant his/her ROI. Fair enough. I do not agree with having employees paying for losses- that is not just unethical, it actually makes my blood boil.
        However, I do not condone theft at any store with the excuse that those who do the deed are deserving. Effectively this campaign is diverting the fact that NZ society allows theft for the “deserving”, chosen by twitter?

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1

          Effectively this campaign is diverting

          No it’s not, you are.

        • greywarshark 4.1.1.2

          @ Foreign Waka
          You are trying to deal with three separate issues in the same discussion of problems and financial deflation. Why don’t you separate them and not compare one to the others It may be true that they interact and feed into each other. But it can’t be simplified. Each problem must be looked at separately.

          1 The disgraceful robbery of staff by small business owners who must take their own losses not expect the staff to buffer them. (They need a security person, or gates. My upmarket small supermarket has those where you pass between two steel tubes and they read your stuff apparently.) The Warehouse has them.

          2 The disgraceful robbery by customers doing a heist, not a small shopsteal, on a business. (They have learned to be bold to survive, determined and cunning, and businesses can’t cope with this level of crime.)

          3 The general lack of support from an increasingly vicious government culture of acceptance of poverty and deliberate actions to further this, which impresses on everybody. It is inevitable that attitudes will become more hostile and aggressive and meaner, because this is the culture the government is promoting.

          Someone a few weeks back referred to a call put out by a watcher from the supermarket staff drawing people’s attention to a customer who I think felt she was targeted just because she was brown, and her manner didn’t confirm with the shopping pattern the watcher hadn’t been taught. She was humiliated by undue suspicion.

          • Foreign waka 4.1.1.2.1

            Yes, it is true that you can fracture this into different section. But as I see it, it is a social norm that seem to creep in and becomes accepted. A corruption of law if you will. If we agree that theft is unacceptable, then there are no blurred lines no matter who is doing the dead. By setting this standard, people of all persuasions and professions do know what is acceptable. I see this as a coherent issue not one to be broken into pieces where one or the other issue escapes standards like the question marks put against some wording regarding money deduction from pay.
            Scandinavia seem to have a very strong set of values around such issues. They leave valuable goods unsecured in small towns, such as boots etc. without having to fear to loose it all. Everybody is vigilant and thus a whole society feels secure.

            • ropata:rorschach 4.1.1.2.1.1

              If theft really was so unacceptable to society John Key, Mark Hotchin and John Banks would all be in prison by now.

            • greywarshark 4.1.1.2.1.2

              Foreigh Waka
              Just take note that NZ has been deteriorating as a country for some time. We aren’t poor but honest, and there are numerous cases of people who I consider wealthy who are criminally fraudulent, rip offs etc.

              Transparency international has been a bloody useless tool. We were lulled into thinking it a worthy summary of how things were, but it was just a feeling, or an anecdotal survey. Meaning no more than that business confidence thing, like taking your own pulse to measure your hearbeat.

              There are going to be thefts, the police warn to lock your cars and stow your valuables out of sight etc and I have heard them criticised for that. Along the line that they should be stopping this criminality?? It’s everybody else’s job to make things better. People help themselves opportunistically to stuff, there have been loose fingers for ages. Stealing each other’s clothes, shoes at school, for instance. And poverty is growing. Going on about the great principles that are upheld elsewhere is wasting time, it happens here, that’s the facts. Wishful thinking doesn’t get us anywhere.

              Please spend your concern on somethings that will help generally, and let’s have a fine moral attitude of respect for all people, and their needs and teach respect for people’s things also. Let’s understand people’s faults, and also the undermining of their self-discipline by alcohol. What would be useful, restrict alcohol outlets to time limits, with special licences for longer periods. That’s where a lot of needed money goes, it get p..sed down the drain.
              edited

              • Foreign waka

                greywarshark, not sure whether you will read this but your answer is somewhat patronizing. To spend my concern on something that will help generally? I thought the discussion was about theft and dishonesty with a specific case put forward with the context of an employee being docked wages for an extraordinary sum of $ 700.00. If this is not something that we should spend some concern on what is?
                I had no intention of wishful thinking but after reading your comment that I interpret as an excuse for all those who fleece unsuspecting people I do not even hold any hope.
                Suffice to say that I have seen in years past people who had nothing, and by that I mean NOTHING and they would not even think about stealing from others (mind you that was in war torn countries). I also learned that it is parents that care and make sure that children understand right from wrong that makes a big difference. Of cause that would mean that some ethical idea of that is being agreed on by society at large and thus expressed to the next generatin. As I said, I don’t have a lot of hope.

                • greywarshark

                  Foreign Waka
                  You are concerned and so am I about this theft business. I am patronising you say, by telling you to think of doing something about it if you want to see it improve.

                  Then you start pontificating on another time another place and comparing then to now and oh dear. And i say oh dear what a waste of time because it isn’t how it is here and we are not on the a.se-end of the planet with the most rotten people there could be it is just how the current culture has affected people.

                  So I won’t say any more about it as you are enjoying your tales of a previously higher level of poverty integrity. It reminds me of George Orwell talking about visiting coal miners houses and emphasising how clean they were though on a tilt and half the floor had dropped away and there were six children to a bed and so on. There are little bits of judgment in everything we say don’t you think.

                  If we spent as much time being helpful and assisting in the building of better lives that had a moral compass to them and respect for those lagging on behind, and insisted that they lived by that moral compass that we applied to them, we would get better honesty and probity. But of course, everyone is not going to be good even then. However, just trying to raise the median a whole lot of points, that would help. That would be doing something, and if we all did something the problem would diminish. You can reply if you wish but I am not saying anything more about it.

  5. felix 5

    “It will be a small subset of employers” who happen to run the biggest companies in NZ

    • Tracey 5.1

      The PM has condemned the behaviour, right? Or is he all outraged out after apologising to his sleazy pal, slater?

  6. greywarshark 6

    It comes back to, on what basis can business owners dock employees’ wages for their own use? It is theft, it is highwaymen tactics.

    The government should be stepping in – it is as bad as health and safety violations. And the public who vote for a government that allows this to continue need to look at themselves and wonder whether they are honest themselves or condone corruption, which makes them accessories to criminality and degradation of a well-run. fair state system.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 6.1

      Government step in ? John Keys government step in , thats a joke.

      Look how much they stepped in over the deaths in Forestry, they said it was a problem that would go away with self regulation.
      Dont hold your breath over money for low paid retail employees, many deaths over low paid forestry workers didnt cause any rush to action.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1

        Government step in ? John Keys government step in , thats a joke.

        Nope, I’m sure that they will step in – to make it legal.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.2

      The government “stepped in” just the other week.

      The “solution” to this problem will be to explicitly legalise the practice, to provide employers with “certainty”.

  7. RedBaronCV 7

    Not to mention certain stores who close on xmas day which one year was a Saturday/Sunday? Staff who habitually worked the saturday or sunday then worked the new years day the following week – and didn’t get the extra’s because “hey we closed on xmas day therefore you don’t habitually work that day so no funds”. Mobie couldn’t have cared less.

    Time for these employers to show goodwill by inviting unions onto the premises and paying the fees.

  8. DH 8

    I’m as surprised as anyone over this, I genuinely thought it was illegal to dock anyone’s pay without a court order. After reading the Wages Protection Act I see it doesn’t actually say it’s illegal, just says that docking pay for unlawful purposes is forbidden. It doesn’t define unlawful purpose and that seems a pretty ambiguous definition.

    I wonder if this isn’t in breach of the Minimum Wages Act, there appears to be no provison for docking pay in that. Copy of the Act here;

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1983/0115/latest/DLM74093.html

    This bit here is relevant…..

    “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any enactment, award, collective agreement, determination, or contract of service, but subject to sections 7 to 9, every worker who belongs to a class of workers in respect of whom a minimum rate of wages has been prescribed under this Act, shall be entitled to receive from his employer payment for his work at not less than that minimum rate.”

    Must admit I think that says the Act overrides any other enactment, collective agreement etc but i am having trouble deciphering what ‘notwithstanding anything to the contrary’ actually means in plain English. Anyone?

    • Rosie 8.1

      Well, Jeff Sissons, lawyer at the CTU says docking wages is unlawful:

      “Jeff Sissons, CTU General Counsel, says “Clauses in employment agreements allowing employers to deduct money from workers’ wages to compensate them for loss caused by workers are unlawful. In the case of petrol station drive offs the worker will not even be at fault so deducting pay will almost certainly be against the law.”

      http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1411/S00228/poor-govt-advice-to-workers-on-petrol-station-drive-offs.htm

      Personally I’d go with his take on it.

      On another note he article also states that BP stations are predominantly unionised. I use Z because I can use fly buys there but will be writing to the local station I go to, to ask what their practice is around customer theft and docking staff wages. In the meantime I will use BP and boycott Z.

      • Rosie 8.1.1

        PS:

        “I’m as surprised as anyone over this,”

        I’m not remotely surprised. One of the most awful jobs in my life was as a sales rep which required me to visit New World (Foodstuffs). I spent most of my working week in these stores dealing with the owners operators and their grocery managers.

        As well as personally being leared at, having to cope with inappropriate sexual comments, and being manipulated and threatened over pricing I also spent time with staff, chatting about their work conditions and pay. There were many a furtive discussion held in the stock room or aisles about the benefits of joining First Union (in it’d former incarnation as the NDU, the union that represents store workers). The was a similar pattern in the response around the stores – they were just too scared to do that.

        That was back in 2007. I don’t think the behaviour of those managers and owners would have changed in any significant way and given the recent Employment Relations Amendment Act, our government has just sent a signal to bad employers that have been given a extra length of rope in which to exploit and abuse workers.

        It’s important that as customers we send a clear message to those companies that we don’t tolerate their power abusing behaviour and instead seek companies that treat their staff respectfully and lawfully.

      • DH 8.1.2

        “Well, Jeff Sissons, lawyer at the CTU says docking wages is unlawful:”

        Don’t think he is saying that Rosie, from what I read of that he’s saying it’s unlawful under specific circumstances which is different to being completely prohibited.

        Note Sissons there says ‘almost certainly’ which translates to “I think, but am not 100% sure”.

        There seems to be a common agreement from the lawyers that docking pay with the workers permission is legal, or at least if they’re not saying it’s legal they’re not saying it isn’t.

        Much of the legal argument looks to surround how this permission is granted by the worker. The employers are inserting it in employment contracts as non specific deductions and claiming that as the written permission required by law.

        The legal consensus seems to be that the employment contract doesn’t constitute adequate consent and each instance of pay docking needs written consent from the worker. Which brings us back to the beginning; if the worker does consent in the required manner is it legal or not?

        • Rosie 8.1.2.1

          Hi DH. Yes, I did see the ‘almost certainly’ – although ahead of this is he does state the deduction of workers wages to compensate for theft is ‘unlawful’.

          I’ve always been of the understanding that the ERA over rides clauses in an agreement. I would hazard a guess this would occur more in the case of an Individual Employment Agreement where there is presumably more scope for things to go wrong – a collective agreement negotiated between the union and the employer is more likely to be water tight, due to the expertise the union the union can bring to the bargaining table.

          Back to your earlier point about the deductions of wages being in breach of the minimum wage. A employment lawyer mentioned on 3 news last week that depending on the amount of the deduction and in the case of this bringing the worker’s pay below minimum wage, the deductions would be illegal on those grounds alone.

          As to the precise meaning of the law, I really don’t know, but I do know it’s morally wrong at the very least and we as customers need to express our disgust to companies that are taking this action and boycott them, once we know exactly who is doing it.

          • DH 8.1.2.1.1

            I totally agree with you Rosie. It is morally repugnant and if the law doesn’t clearly and specifically forbid it then we need a change in the law.

            My reading of it is the law was meant to ban it but the wording in the Wages Protection Act is so vague it can be interpreted many different ways and some employers are exploiting that subjectiveness to fleece workers. ‘lawful purpose’ can be taken to mean just about anything without knowing the specifics of it.

            • Macro 8.1.2.1.1.1

              You need to read the FULL article DH, Particularly the third to last paragraph.

              “In the Dominion Post today (21 November 2014) another unnamed MBIE official today said “A worker had to agree in writing to any deduction.” Sissons says “This is right as far as it goes but the Courts have held that clauses allowing the employer to deduct money for loss caused by the worker are not lawful. It does not matter if the clause is in the agreement or not.”

              As I have opined below, the principle in law is that one cannot make an unlawful contract. Employment law allows for the employer to make deductions which the employee wishes to have deducted. This provision is so employees can make regular payments for rent and loans etc. It is not for the employer to make an ad hoc deduction for some perceived loss. This has been tested in court, and as Sissons says the practice is unlawful. The MBIE doesn’t understand its own law!

          • North 8.1.2.1.2

            It’s preposterous to imagine that a clause about the docking of pay in ‘dishonesty related matters’ can apply to a worker who has not him/herself engaged in dishonesty. If it could properly be read that way it would extend to me the office cleaner being called to ‘dub-in’ when the financial controller whom I’ve never met does a bunk with $500K.

            That would be legal ? Get a life.

      • weka 8.1.3

        “On another note he article also states that BP stations are predominantly unionised. I use Z because I can use fly buys there but will be writing to the local station I go to, to ask what their practice is around customer theft and docking staff wages. In the meantime I will use BP and boycott Z.”

        thanks for that useful bit of info Rosie.

  9. coaster 9

    Lol, where employees are afraid of loosing there job, where this seen as the norm, where employeres and staff dont know there rights and requirements, where the employee feels guilt over a situation out of there control this happens.

    ask around your friends and family about employer abusing their staff, youll be surprised how common this is. Just like some employers using the 90 day law to cover the busy xmas/summer tourist season.

    • Lanthanide 9.1

      “Just like some employers using the 90 day law to cover the busy xmas/summer tourist season.”

      They could easily have employed people on fixed term or casual contracts as well. So really the 90-day law doesn’t change anything, except allows employers to be lazy / dickheads and imply they’re giving someone a permanent job when they really aren’t. But if they’re that ignorant of their staffing options, there’s a good chance they’ll screw up the 90-day provision and could have a successful grievance laid against them for it.

  10. Foreign Waka 10

    DH, docking pay it is a breach of Employment law unless there is a agreement under courts advise.
    “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any enactment…” I would interpret this as no matter what clause is put in a contract, it cannot override minimum provisions under the labor laws of the country.

    • DH 10.1

      “DH, docking pay it is a breach of Employment law unless there is a agreement under courts advise.”

      That’s not what the Wages Protection Act seems to say. Exact wording….

      5 Deductions with worker’s consent
      (1) An employer may, for any lawful purpose,—
      (a) with the written consent of a worker; or
      (b) on the written request of a worker—
      make deductions from wages payable to that worker.

      The key phrase there is ‘any lawful purpose’ which, frankly, is hugely ambiguous and confusing. What exactly does it mean, I don’t even pretend to know.

      People are saying that docking pay for someone else’s theft is illegal but there doesn’t appear to be a law that specifically says that, or at least I can’t find one. If, for example, a security guard is expressly hired to prevent theft, and is negligent in letting theft occur, I’d think the above legal wording would permit docking his pay.

      • Foreign Waka 10.1.1

        It has to be with the employees consent or by law. For lawful purpose includes such things as payback of court fees, DBP payments, etc. all of which are government payments. This is done on instruction of a court directive – lawful purpose.
        Written consent of an employee can include buying an item at the store they work and pay back in set deduction of money each week/fourth night.
        All of those forms need a written consent form signed by the employee.

        There is no provision whatever to deduct money from an employees account without consent or indeed to cover 3rd party theft. This is unlawful.

        If an employee neglects his/her duty then it becomes a performance issue that has to be dealt with in a reasonable way.
        i.e a security guard is chatting with a friend for a long time and neglects checking for attempted theft that may have occurred. As an employer, you need to invite the employee to a disciplinary meeting giving enough notice for him/her to get representation. It is the employers duty to put the case with enough proof yo justify final warning due to business loss. As far as I know, you cannot just dismiss someone because you are enraged. At no time is it permitted to dock the security guys pay.

        But you may want to get a lawyers advise before you do anything.

        • Lanthanide 10.1.1.1

          “As far as I know, you cannot just dismiss someone because you are enraged.”

          Sure you can. You’ll almost certainly lose any personal grievance filed as a result, however, and if it goes to court one of the outcomes could be re-instatement.

    • Macro 10.2

      You cannot contract out of the law.

      The MBIE’s website notes that
      “The Wages Protection Act 1983 sets out the way wages must be paid, and prevents unlawful deductions from wages.”

      In particular it states:

      Employers generally can’t make deductions (take money) from employees’ wages.

      Employers can only do this where:

      an employee has agreed to or requested the deduction in writing. The employee can vary or withdraw this consent by giving notice in writing at any time. The employer must then vary or stop the deductions within two weeks of receiving the notice or as soon as practicable
      an employment agreement says the money can be taken out (for example, for union fees in a collective agreement)
      an employer wishes to recover overpayments where the employee has been absent from work without the employer’s authority, been on strike, locked out or suspended. The employer may only recover an overpayment where it was not reasonably practicable to avoid making the overpayment. The employer must tell the employee of their intention to recover the overpayment before deducting any money and then make that deduction within two months of telling them.
      a Court directs that a deduction be made
      a bargaining fee arrangement applies to the employee
      an employee is required by law (for example, income tax, child support payments or other statutory purposes) to make payments.

      In my view, even if there is a statement in an employment contract to the effect that the employer can dock pay from an employee for someone else’s theft, it has no effect in law. Why? Because the employer is, in effect, stealing from the employee (taking something they are not entitled too). Two “wrongs” do not make a “right”. The employee did not engage in the theft. Therefore, not only is it unethical and unprincipled to penalise someone for something they did not do – I believe in this instance it is also unlawful – namely theft. These scumbag employers need to be taken to court.

      • The lost sheep 10.2.1

        You are completely right Macro.
        As Sissons has indicated, there is already case law that has established this practice is not a ‘lawful purpose’, and therefore it is illegal.
        I have assisted an employee in a similar case, and it was resolved very quickly once it was brought to the notice of MBIE.

        In the original story about the Supermarket case, it did state that the employer had later paid the deductions back. No doubt that was the result of someone bringing the law to his attention.

        It’s a bit bold to call ‘Tip of the Iceberg’ on the basis of what, 3-4 cases?
        This practice is very rare IMO, and hopefully it will be non existent after this current publicity.

  11. coaster 11

    If someone is paid to sell petrol, and someone takes it without paying is a similar thing, they didnt do there job.

    but can we send the police a bill for not getting stolen good back as we pay taxes for them to do this?.

    This isnt about legally is right, its about morals. Some business have been found out doing some things that many of of us find morally wrong, we have the power to choose who we give our business too.

    back to the legal side of things, thing how many business could be forced to pay money back if this is proven to be illegal.

    • srylands 11.1

      “If someone is paid to sell petrol, and someone takes it without paying is a similar thing, they didnt do there job.”

      What do you mean – a “similar thing” to what?

      Are you saying that a gas station attendant is negligent if someone gases up their car and drives off without paying? How is the attendant supposed to stop them?

      This is fairly simple.

      If the employers are docking wages without consent of the employees, they are acting unlawfully. The employees should complain to MBIE. The employers should be prosecuted.

      On the other hand if the employees have employment agreements that allow this practice, the employers are acting lawfully. The employees were stupid for signing such agreements. They should resign and look for new jobs with less fucked up employers.

      • Macro 11.1.1

        The employers cannot contract out of the law – Just as a landlord cannot reduce the rent for a property because it has inadequate water supply. The landlord is required to fix the water supply no matter what. Getting someone to sign a document saying I can steal from them doesn’t let me off the hook.

      • North 11.1.2

        Typical old SS-Lands @ 11.1 what ?

        If the employment contract ‘says it’ in whatever measure of vagueness and unparticularity, if the employee signed it, then bugger off if you don’t like it. That is to say, don’t bother the employer with an insistent reliance on the employee’s ‘property’ in the true meaning and intent of the employment contract. Surrender it up !

        My comment @ 8.1.2.1.2 above –

        “It’s preposterous to imagine that a clause about the docking of pay in ‘dishonesty related matters’ can apply to a worker who has not him/herself engaged in dishonesty. If it could properly be read that way it would extend to me the office cleaner being called to ‘dub-in’ when the financial controller whom I’ve never met does a bunk with $500K. That would be legal ? Get a life.”

        Let’s not unduly worry the greedy, the market crooks aye SS-Lands ? The life you’ve got is a dog, clearly.

  12. tricledrown 12

    Wages theft is standard practice across most industries now especially in the rural sector.
    Even Mobies investigation into immigrant farm Wokers showed 25% were not being paid for hours worked.
    Across other industries like building employers are expecting Carpenters to use their own equipment vehicles petrol/deisel without any reimbursment.Hospitality workers are continually jerked around with their hours.
    Forrestry workers are exploited put in constant danger.

    Bullying Bosses are common as muck.
    Nationals goal is taking employment back the Dickensian days!

  13. tricledrown 13

    Wages theft is standard practice across most industries now especially in the rural sector.
    Even Mobies investigation into immigrant farm Wokers showed 25% were not being paid for hours worked.
    Across other industries like building employers are expecting Carpenters to use their own equipment vehicles petrol/deisel without any reimbursment.Hospitality workers are continually jerked around with their hours.
    Forrestry workers are exploited put in constant danger.

    Bullying Bosses are common as muck.
    Nationals goal is taking employment back the Dickensian days!

  14. Foreign Waka 14

    Coaster. By just deducting money from the employees account without permission, the employer did not do their job.
    You will find that if good systems are in place (cameras, recordings etc) Police is more than happy to pursue as it is usually so that the same people who steal in such way are also involved in other unlawful actions.

    There is of cause the question of being part of a surveillance society or not. Depending on your stand on these issues. It will be a choice you have to make. At no times can you just deduct money from the employees pay.

    And yes, it is about morals and ethics – but over and above it is about the law. If not adhered to, you life in anarchy.

  15. Draco T Bastard 15

    If you’re in this position, now is the time to contact your friendly local media…

    And a union.

  16. cogito 16

    How come Key’s pay has not been docked for the gfc, pike river, chch quakes, falling dairy prices….? Fair’s fair. Key should pay.

    • Weepus beard 16.1

      No contract in place. Teenagers in Whakatane will do anything to work as is the National party brief. They will sign any draconian terms for a job. It’s probably the MBIE’s job to make sure those terms are not too draconian.

      Guess they failed this time, like at Pike River.

  17. Andrea 17

    Judging from assorted CCTV clips of people doing full trolley heists – they are not little old ladies. More like hulking great blokes.

    And supermarkets want the checkout(!) people to stop them?! How? And why should they literally put life on the line to stop large road roller sized people barging off with a full trolley?

    OTT? Exaggeration? I wonder if the woman who was biffed coming to the support of another woman who was being mugged – and ended up in hospital in a serious condition would agree…And that was just one bloke.

    “We just come to work here – we don’t come to die.”

  18. Atiawa 18

    There are a multitude of dodgy employment practices occurring in Gods Own. One of the worst is the subsidy paid to low paying employers who hire workers on minimum and low wages and expect the government to top up the family income through working for families.
    Why would the last Labour government not further strengthen employment law & unionism rather than implementing WfF? Why should taxation subsidize low paid jobs and employers? Whose keeping tab’s on these employers profitability?

    • BassGuy 18.1

      You know, I was thinking about this message while at work today and realised something: in America, McDonalds reportedly hires people at minimum wage and employees someone to tell their staff how to access government assistance such as food stamps.

      Labour were slowly building a system with similar outcomes, perhaps not intentionally but that would be the end result.

  19. NZJester 19

    When businesses illegally forced workers to work through their break and got caught out National came to the rescue of the employers by writing a law to make it legal for them to do that to a worker.
    I do wonder if National will again change employment law to make this kind of thing legal as well?
    You can bet they would do if they thought they could get away with it like they have with removing workers breaks.

  20. MrV 20

    Something is missing from this story. Most stores these days have an army of security cameras and at least one security guard.

    • McFlock 20.1

      nope, nothing missing. Said in the original article about the petrol station that some of the drive-offs could be tracked down from security footage, but the owner wasn’t interested. Probably because he was stealingdocking from his employees.

  21. RedLogix 21

    My partner is currently working in one of your typical Mitre10/Bunnings/Masters operations. A typical large warehouse box.

    “Shrinkage” averages $4000 per day. Think about that.

    Now consider that 40-50% of that shrinkage is known to be ’employee related’.

    This is a ugly problem for many small business owners and franchisee operators especially in the retail sector. Consider the original example which prompted this discussion – the service station in Masterton.

    I lived there for five years I used to fill up at the place in question. It is a town of 18,000 and every young person in town knows each other. So what is the risk of a ‘drive-off’ being one of your staff members mates? Or the drive-off ‘knows’ where the staff member lives? Or simple peer-pressure? Anyone who has lived in a small town like this knows these are real issues for young people.

    Of course this puts both the business owner and the staff member in an impossible situation – when faced with the very real losses from drive-offs – neither is in a position to prove exactly what happened. Neither can show whether there was collusion or not. And the local cops are likely to be of no help whatsoever.

    In these circumstances it’s not terribly surprising that some owners have resorted to docking wages. Of course it’s not fair on the worker because it’s shifting all the risk onto them – regardless of whether it is justified or not. It’s a wrong solution.

    Petrol stations could all go to pre-pay – but that buggers their business model which is entirely dependent on secondary sales inside the shop. Many operators would simply stop operating at night-time and whole swathes of regional NZ might have no fuel available after normal business hours. Or only at a higher price.

    In the wider retail industry this is a massive and unsolved problem that is more complex that just some bastard business owners screwing their workers.

    • McFlock 21.1

      If the employers’ business model relies on the staff subsidising the business for theft, then maybe customers should pay a higher price. Or plan ahead with their fuel purchases. FFS, how difficult is it to top-up the tank before it hits empty?

      • RedLogix 21.1.1

        Well already do pay a higher prices to cover shrinkage anyway but small regional petrol stations are in an awkward position. There is an expectation that there will be a reasonable level of 24hr coverage. For instance the entire Wairarapa may only have one station open – but even then it’s a service with a very, very thin margin.

        But yes – getting employees to cover for these theft losses which in most cases will beyond their control is wrong.

        Otherwise much of this covered off in Open Mike today.

        • nadis 21.1.1.1

          Ever tried buying petrol in the US or the developed parts of Europe?

          A lot of stations particularly in a place like Switzerland are completely unattended and open 24/7. Pre-pay by Credit card or cash only. And in the US, your chance of putting a drop of petrol in the vehicle before pre-paying are zero. Not hard to solve drive offs.

          • RedLogix 21.1.1.1.1

            Of course pre-pay solves the problem. Now you’re a clever fellow – can you work out why small regional petrol station owners are reluctant to do it? Clue – it’s not the cost of installing it.

  22. Skinny 22

    Whenever National meddle with the ERA you get an automatic attitude change by many employers, basically the bad ones ride roughshod over their employee’s rights. The hotel manager trying to impose the new tea break law ahead of the introduction timeframe is a classic example.

  23. Richard@Down South 23

    I work at a 24 hour dairy… mostly night shift making food, and serving customers..

    There’s a sign that says ‘If you burn it you bought it’

    • Macro 23.1

      The Courts have held that clauses allowing the employer to deduct money for loss caused by the worker are not lawful. It does not matter if the clause is in the agreement or not.
      So tell them to get stuffed!
      better still join your union and get them to tell the owners to get stuffed.

  24. Bryan 24

    If we look at the taking money out of employees’ wages when petrol is stolen by
    drive-off thieves and continue with this ridiculous proposition.
    Are staff required to reimburse for confectionery or other items that are stolen in store and recorded on CCTV while they happen to be working?
    Are staff required to reimburse monies taken by armed robbers ?
    Or damage caused by the discharge of firearms during armed robberies?
    And to pay for damage caused to forecourt fittings by drive-off thieves driving erratically?

    It is the role the owner/operators to take measures to mitigate against theft and ultimately to meet the costs to the business if and when recovery from the thieves is not possible. [ and that cost likely may be met ultimately by the customers]
    The corporate parent company that they operate through or under quite simply should front and stop this theft from employees rather than run for cover and plead ignorance of the nasty practices of owners/franchisees.

  25. Scooter Motoretta 25

    Take New World Waitara for example. When the checkout operator accepts a cheque the supervisor has to approve it first with ID. If the cheque bounces the money is deducted by the Wendy Williams. one of the owners. Despite being told this is illegal under the Wages Protection Act, she continues to do this. If any of the checkout staff, or any of the rest of the staff join a union they are gradually dismissed. Constructively dismissed is the term.

  26. It is appalling to know that such a large corporation like them would react to such a lowly act of docking their staff’s pay for something that they did not do. The instant reaction could have been to review their CCTV footages and hand them over to the police. If they are still unable to catch the thieves, then the management should think about hiring security guards at the exits to prevent future occurrences. Docking the checkout staff’s pay is not going to make the situation any better and $700 is a high amount, considering their low salary. Here at my self storage, staff is my main priority because I treasure their hard work and commitment.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • New digital service to make business easy
    A new digital platform aims to make it easier for small businesses to access services from multiple government agencies, leaving them more time to focus on their own priorities. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Small Business Stuart Nash ...
    3 days ago
  • Million-dollar start to gun collection events
    Million-dollar start to gun collection events  Police Minister Stuart Nash says a solid start has been made to the gun buyback and amnesty after the first weekend of community collection events. “Gun owners will walk away with more than ...
    4 days ago
  • Praise after first firearms collection event
    Police Minister Stuart Nash has praised Police and gun owners after the first firearms collection event saw a busy turnout at Riccarton Racecourse in Christchurch. “Police officers and staff have put a tremendous effort into planning and logistics for the ...
    4 days ago
  • New Police constables deployed to regions
    Seventy-eight new Police constables are heading out to the regions following today’s graduation of a new recruit wing from the Royal New Zealand Police College. Police Minister Stuart Nash says the record high number of new Police officers being recruited, ...
    2 weeks ago