The Employment Relations Authority has recently ordered a man to pay his ex-wife over $85,000 in wage arrears and holiday pay because he failed to pay her during her employment.  

The woman worked in the man’s store for four years. During that time the woman’s wages were reported to the Inland Revenue Department, but she never received or had access to them.

The woman learnt of the wages when she applied for an IRD number and found that she already had one. The woman then brought a claim to the Authority for the wage arrears and holiday pay that she had not received.

The Authority decided that the woman had not received the wages owed to her, nor did she know that they were being reported to the IRD.

The Authority decided that even if the woman had been paid, it would have been into a joint bank account with her husband. For that to occur, the law requires an employee to agree to have their wages transferred to a joint account, which the woman had not agreed to.

The Authority denied the argument that the woman had used her husband’s credit card “lavishly” and that amounted to her being paid wages. There was no evidence to suggest the woman knew that was the arrangement, and much of the spending was on household costs.

The husband also failed to keep wage and time records for the woman.

The Authority ordered the man to pay the woman $82,000 in wage arrears and $7,400 in holiday pay. The man was also ordered to pay $2,300 in costs.

It is important to know your obligations as an employer. If you are confused about these obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Sarah Jamieson and Hunter Flanagan-Connors