Remember Staff During Hard Times

NEW ZEALAND – Revised pay-outs from Fonterra and Westland have been taking the headlines of late but staff must not be neglected, farmers have been warned.
calendar icon 6 August 2014
clock icon 2 minute read

A well run farm with happy staff is more likely to ride out rocky periods, according to Federated Farmers President for Waikato Chris Lewis.

He cautioned that times of stress result in paperwork being forgotten and corners being cut.

“Health and safety is fast becoming a huge part of operating a farm business. With the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment is conducting checks on farms looking at farmers employment contracts, health and safety standards, staff hour sheets and time off, it is important to keep on top of this even in times of high pressure.

“We must not just aspire to be compliant but to be better than the minimum standards. I know that I myself, employing five fulltime staff find it hard, but know it is essential too my success and the strength of my business.”

Four measures have been outlined for farmers from Mr Lewis’ experience that have been picked up from other farmers to keep good rapport and morale around farm.

  • Employing casual staff during peak work times to take up the slack so staff never max there hours and can finish on time.
  • Having a rule that milking must finish by 5.30pm, which forces staff and the employer to get their jobs done on time and start milking on time.
  • In peak times, have scheduled time off for staff, with casuals employed so this can happen without adding pressure to the farming operation. This is essential to avoid health and safety breaches through tiredness causing accidents resulting in prosecution.
  • If you have a large farm, it is helpful to employ calf rearers so your staff can get on with their usual workload.

Social activities and days off in quiet periods, such as August, are ways to invest in staff relations, he added.

Mr Lewis also prescribes business sign staff up as members, in line with Council of Trade Unions campaigning.

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