My husband and I sold our Organic Dairy Farm last season with takeover 28th April 2020. At the time we were in lockdown

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Customer: My husband and I sold our Organic Dairy Farm last season with takeover 28th April 2020. At the time we were in lockdown with Covid 19 and were not able to purchase another property. So we decided that we would get a couples farming job. We answered an add for a couples dairy assistant job in our local area, this being Dargaville. At the interview we were outlined the conditions of employment. This being 55hrs each 11 days on 3 days off, We would receive as a couple $110,000.00pa and a rent free house. We would start milking at approx 4.30am with milking the cows OAD and milking times depended on the season. At the moment we are starting at 4am, milking until approx 10am then have a 2.5hr break then back to work until 5pm. 10.5hrs per day. At the time of the interview I said that we were GST registered and could we do an invoice plus GST on the conditions outlined. The farm owner agreed. When we arrived on farm we were not given any contract to outline the conditions of the contract or even a sit down to discuss terms. At the beginning of Oct my husband became very ill due to a foreign body entering his eye while working on the farm and spent 5 days with sever fevers in hospital. After various tests it was reported that not only had he got cellulitis of the eye but it was complicated with Leptospirosis. At the end of Oct I sent him and invoice which included a weeks ACC and time and half and day in lieu for labour day. This then set off a reaction from the owner to say that we were on a milking contract and that we were responsible for our own ACC and the our contract did not cover Public holidays. Under a regular contract that would be so. But the question comes now is we have 2 managers that we are directly managed by, who are on a salary and we have been treated as though we are employees all through the 5 months we have worked for the Owner. At one stage during August after working 12 hr days calving cows and then arriving at the cowshed 2 mins late a stern remark was handed out to us about being at the shed on time, I reacted and he said this was not the time as we were on a different contract and he would discuss this further later on. He never approached us to continue that conversation. Where do we stand.
JA: Did you document the condition to management or HR? What happened?
Customer: We advised the owner that Greg had contacted Lepto and we were still finding out what type of Lepto it was. Cattle or otherwise. There was nothing done at the time of our conversation when I advised the owner of the Lepto and now we are advised that the cows will be vaccinated for Lepto at the end of this week
JA: Where are you located? Workers' comp law varies by state.
Customer: We are in NZ in Northland
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Not at this time Customer: Chat is completed
Answered by Chris The Lawyer in 31 mins 1 year ago
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Chris The Lawyer
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

Hi
I am a New Zealand lawyer based in Wellington and will help you with your question today. Please give me a minute to read the question

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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

In this situation your contract looks more like an employment contract because you need to look at whether you were genuinely self employed or in reality actually employees. From your description it could be argued you are employees because except for the invoicing you appear to have worked regular hours under the direction of the managers. So your remedies may depend on what you want out of this

Customer
We are experienced farmers who have been working under employee conditions but getting paid less than minimum wage when you take out our costs incurred while working on the farm under no written contract. The owner is a bully and I would like him to stand up and acknowledge the fact that he should have had a contract in place either milking or employee contract. There are rules around employing people without contracts. I admit it was a bit remiss of us to start working without any written contract in place but when he does not acknowledge that his practices are not lawful then I think I need a mediator to settle this with him. Who would I go to to have this happen?
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

There are a number of mediators I could suggest-would that help

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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

I will call shortly

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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

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