A Waikato bar has removed a "volunteer" position after it received backlash online.
Elsie's Restaurant and Bar in Tuakau said it was searching for a driver for its courtesy van, and the successful person needed to be available Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm until the restaurant closed.
The post doesn't say it is a volunteer role, nor does it list any remuneration. It does ask that applicants have a full driver's licence and are aged 25 years or older. A contact number is included so people can learn more about the role.
One woman who contacted the bar shared the messages she received in response to a Facebook community page. The messages show the rate for the position is $12 an hour.
"I'm very sick of people & businesses trying to take advantage of others," she wrote. "You should be ashamed of yourselves."
Comments on the post said the rate was "highway robbery" and is "exploiting people".
Elsie's asked the applicant for their hometown, age, availability, the length they've had their full licence, if they've ever been involved in a car accident, if the person has another job or family members that would affect them from being on time, and if it would be a problem that they received cash for the position.
When Newshub contacted Elsie's and asked why the position paid below the minimum wage, the owner Sunil Nair said they wanted "a volunteer driver who will be helping us as we get into the busy period".
"The said driver would basically get donations from the patrons. This was targeted to suit someone who's looking to do a bit of community work and help the community travel safely back home and avoid drink and drive," Nair told Newshub.
"This was never meant to be a permanent position and hired by the company and was simply based on providing community help as previously mentioned."
The owner said in the five years they've been running the business, they have never offered an employee less than minimum wage because they "clearly know and agree [that] is illegal".
They added it was a "very poorly worded" advertisement that was written by the bar manager.
The bar manager told Newshub she takes full responsibility for the advertisement and how it was worded.
"It was more for a driver for our community, just to get our people home safe. It's a courtesy that we're offering," she said.
"I'm taking full responsibility for how I posted it and how it was all wrong."
The rate of $12 an hour was based on what previous people in the position had received on average in tips from patrons, she said.
"Most drivers that we had previously, the donations they got were based on what patrons gave them for driving home. Sometimes they made quite a bit. Any tips we made on the night [in the restaurant] were shared with the driver," the bar manager said.
She added the volunteer listing was taken down a few days ago.
Stu Lumsden, the national manager of the Labour Inspectorate, told Newshub he wouldn't expect a hospitality business advertising for staff to offer volunteer positions.
"A volunteer position must not expect payment, must not receive payment and the business must not derive an economic benefit from the work. Otherwise they are likely to be an employee, and would be entitled to minimum entitlements, including receiving at least the minimum wage of $18.90 per hour," he said.
"For a party to advertise for a volunteer relationship, it's important that they make it clear that the worker does not expect payment and does not receive payment. An exception can be donations or reimbursement of expenses they incurred as part of the volunteering."
The original ad didn't list a pay rate, which Lumsden said can happen since this is agreed between an employer and an employee. However, the agreed minimum rate can't be less than the minimum wage, which is currently $18.90.
The ad also asks applicants to be 25 and over and if they have a job or family that "would affect you from being on time". Lumsden said employers and employees can have discussions "in good faith" about how they will manage aspects of their personal life to meet the requirements of the job.
"However, advertisements must not have any unlawful discrimination, where the employer questions a potential employee about aspects of their life that has no relationship to their ability to perform the job."
The voluntary position would also be paid in cash, according to the messages from Facebook.
Paying employees in cash isn't illegal, a spokesperson for Inland Revenue told Newshub, but not keeping a record and reporting those payments is.
"All employers have to maintain adequate employee records including employee name, IR number, income provided and any PAYE or other deductions. They have to provide this information to IR on a regular basis," they said.
Lumsden said if anyone sees an advertisement or opening for a position they believe is exploiting a volunteer relationship or breaching minimum standards of employment, they can contact the Labour Inspectorate so it can be investigated.