Retail workers missing out on $800 per year in 'unpaid' duties - union

More shop workers are stepping forward to complain in what is believed to be a "widespread" problem of big-name retailers failing to pay for work meetings, First Union says.

Last week the employment court ordered Smiths City to back-pay staff six years' worth of lost wages - a payout that could stretch into seven figures.

First Union spokesperson Tali Williams told Morning Report the union was receiving messages and reports from retail workers who had not realised until now that they were entitled to be paid.

Ms Williams said considering the number of messages and reports, the issue appears to be widespread but some employers did not deal with issue even when it was brought to their attention.

"In some situations they have raised it, and even we've raised it at various points over the years to say 'well this doesn't seem right to us and you should be paying these people and the response from companies has been similar to what the Briscoes employee spoke about earlier," she said.

"The response has been 'no, this is the right thing to do, you've got to come in, you've got to do these sessions otherwise you're going to be behind on work and that's going to affect your performance'."

"A lot of retail workers are on minimum wage and so then they're missing out on roughly $800 a year by attending these free meetings every morning."

A retail employee who worked for Rebel Sport said she was not paid to do the evening cash-up.

"I noticed that I wasn't getting paid for that final 15 minutes of work, and when I brought this up with the management team they told me that it was because Rebel Sport cashes in less tills, so the cash at the end of the day takes less time and because it tends to take 10-15 minutes they don't have to pay us."

Another retail worker who was formerly employed by Briscoes said the staff were required to go to work 15 minutes early for unpaid daily meetings - just like Smiths City workers.

The former Briscoes employee, who did not wish to be named, said she went to the meetings every shift for the four years she was at the company but never questioned them because she didn't know any better.

However, Briscoes' managing director Rod Duke denied that some staff members had been forced to attend unpaid work meetings.

He said his company, which owns both the Briscoes and Rebel Sports brands, was mindful of its obligations as an employer.

"It may have been many years ago that was the case - I don't know whether it was or was not," Mr Duke said.

"But I can tell you for the last good number of years, and probably an extended period, people have in fact been paid for the Monday meetings or the meetings which occur from time to time 15 minutes early."

He said he had checked with every regional manager today and all staff were paid for meetings.

Another person told Radio New Zealand that Noel Leeming staff were made to come in 30 minutes before work, attend after-hours functions, and product knowledge sessions, all without being paid.

He said if you did not attend, it would be used against you in a performance review.

First Union said now that there was some clarification in the law it will be pursuing the matter with other retailers and members affected by the issue.

Retail worker (file picture).
Retail worker (file picture). Source: istock.com



Reducing GP fees won't necessarily help those who need it, doctor says

Overworked general practitioners need to see people who need their help, with increased subsidies not necessarily leading to that outcome, according to a leading GP.

The current model was "inefficient" in its use of resource, Dr John Cameron told TVNZ1's Breakfast today.

"We have people who cannot afford to go and see a doctor at the moment, that's being shown in many studies and it's looking at our ED (emergency department) units which are free of charge to turn up, people are turning up there with primary care problems," he said.

"That's an inefficient use of resource and healthcare should be provided in the community."

"How do we target government subsidised funding to those who either need it because of health need or need it because of a financial need?"

Dr Cameron said GPs wanted to be able to provide healthcare targeted to the individual needs of people.

"We want to see the people that we need to see," Dr Cameron said.

"What we want to be to do is anticipate what your health need will be, put more money into that to reduce the barriers and then shift you on from there so we actually try to prevent the ill-health in the first place."

Dr Cameron said the two basic funding models in place currently weren't tailored to the individual.

"One (funding model) is called access funding which provides for the vast majority of our population."

"We have another one called VLCA, which is very low cost access, and that is if your practice has more than per cent Maori, Pacific or quintiles 5, you get a huge bucket of money thrown in but it's extrapolated across your whole population (including non-Maori, Pacific or quintiles 5)," he said.

"So the funding is population based, not individual based."

Overworked GPs need to see people who most need their help, with increased subsidies not necessarily leading to that outcome, Dr Cameron says. Source: Breakfast

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Damage from January storm that hit Coromandel, BOP cost insurers more than $34m

Figures released this morning from the Insurance Council show the storm that hit parts of the North Island in early-January has cost private insurers nearly $34.2 million.

More than 4,200 claims were made following the storm.

Insurance Council New Zealand Chief Executive, Tim Grafton says, "The storm of early January caused heavy flooding and substantial damage to the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty regions." 

Mr Grafton says the towns of Kaiaua and Thames suffered greatly. 

Over 3000 of the claims made were domestic, costing $19,120,299.

Another 685 were commercial claims costing $11,714,690.

"The cost of this storm demonstrates the importance of adapting to climate change and putting processes and infrastructure improvements in place that minimise the costs and impacts of these events," Mr Grafton says. 

"As time goes on, we expect these sorts of events to become both more frequent and more severe. Every dollar spent on adaptation now will be more than repaid in future savings."

Fair Go sheds light on a weather trap that could have insurance ramifications for thousands of New Zealanders.
Source: Fair Go