Two former employees of a restaurant brought a proceeding to the Employment Relations Authority against their former employer. They claimed they were not paid overtime and had both kept personal wage and time records reflecting 66 hours worked per week. The employer’s wage and time records were incomplete, but reflected an average of 48 hours worked per week.

Employers must keep accurate wages and times records, and holiday and leave records. In this case the employer’s records were incomplete. The Authority considered whether it could rely on the personal records of time worked by each employee as being more accurate. However, the ERA found the personal records kept by the employees to not be credible evidence for proving the employees worked overtime. This was because it could be shown that some of the hours they recorded as working were not correct as they recorded working on days when they were actually on leave.

The Authority therefore considered the employer’s incomplete records as a better reflection of hours worked, but stated that the casualness and lack of attention to detail leaves the business at risk. This is because the Authority can penalise businesses for failing to keep adequate wages and time records. Using the employer’s records they showed that the employer still had to pay over $23,000 for unpaid overtime, holiday pay and interest.

One of the employees were not given an employment agreement which is also a breach of our employment laws. The employer was penalised $1,250 for this breach.

Keeping accurate wage, time and holiday records is very important. A lack of records leaves the business open to penalties and other claims.