Exclusive: Govt plans to seize payroll records


The holiday pay crisis is deepening, with the ministry in charge demanding payroll records from 100 of New Zealand's biggest companies.

Newshub has obtained a letter telling the businesses that if they don't comply, the inspectors will use legal powers to seize them.

The letter shows the tough tactics Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is using to audit businesses.

One recipient, who wanted to remain anonymous, told Newshub it's "bullying".

Content of MBIEs Pre Audit Letter

Sent last month to 100 of New Zealand's big employers, it makes it clear that if they do not cooperate:

"Every Labour Inspector has the power to require the production of, and to inspect and take copies from, any wage and time record or any holiday and leave record.

"A Labour Inspector has the power to interview any employee and employer and to question any employer."

The letter was sent after MBIE identified problems at a small number of employers showing 24,000 workers could be owed up to $1700 each.

It reads:

"If the Inspectorate does not hear from you by [the deadline date], we will assume your organisation fits within the priority criteria for audit."

And payroll specialists say the pressure is out of line, given they have been making complaints about the Holiday Act since it came into force way back in 2003.

As for the scale of the problem -- dating back 12 years, the number of people potentially caught up gets bigger all the time.

A crisis meeting was called at MBIE Headquarters on Tuesday and payroll coordinators for big companies have been called in for a day-long meeting.

But many of those involved are saying that's not good enough.

The Council of Trade Unions has written to Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse asking for an urgent project group of business, unions and government agencies to get together.

The union's call is being backed by business already -- Business New Zealand want this to happen too.

But while unions and business are on the same page on this, the Minister has yet to respond.