AWF, one of New Zealand’s largest staffing providers, said today that it was pleased to announce that it has reached a full and final settlement with the Labour Inspectorate following an investigation that arose from media allegations in 2018.
The Labour Inspectorate undertook an investigation of AWF regarding employment agreements for its Filipino workers that had an unlawful addendum which was added at the request of a Philippines agency. The agreements also contained room for confusion around hours of work, in particular, in respect of minimum and maximum hours. AWF’s General Manager, Fleur Board, said the company was unaware that the unlawful clause had been added within the addendum, and consequently these agreements were non-compliant and contravened New Zealand employment law.
“AWF had been working with licenced Filipino recruitment agency, HAPI (Human Aggregates Philippines Inc), who had requested that AWF, via a former Manager, add an addendum to our existing agreements with Filipino workers. It was HAPI who had provided this specific addendum which, among other things, contained an unlawful provision restricting participation in union activities.
“What we also discovered was that the use of addendums by Filipino agencies was widespread and accordingly we brought this to the attention of the New Zealand agencies including Immigration New Zealand (INZ) and the Labour Inspectorate.”
“As a large industry player and a member of RCSA (the Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association of Australia & NZ), we considered it totally unacceptable that an unlawful provision had been in some migrant workers’ employment agreements but as soon as we became aware, we acted to understand how this addendum had been added and to rectify the situation. Consequently, an internal investigation revealed that a former AWF Manager had acted without authority in complying with the HAPI request.” says Board.
Board says what this case taught for all involved parties, is the need to work together to ensure the best outcome for Filipino and other international workers within the context of a complicated labour hire industry.
“It is worth putting the issue in context, as recruiting and deploying overseas labour is a challenging industry with a number of involved parties. Nonetheless, AWF regrets that this oversight in its delegated authority process occurred and apologises to any of its Filipino workers affected as a result. AWF supports workers in their right to access union services.
“In terms of ongoing best practice, AWF will make space available at its Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch branches for union meetings at agreed times. It will communicate to staff about such meetings and will pay any migrant worker to attend a union meeting.”
Board said that having reached resolution, AWF intends to renew its accreditation for the recruitment and employment of overseas workers.
“This is welcome news as AWF will be in a stronger position to recruit skilled workers for the New Zealand businesses that have experienced significant skills shortages for several years.”
With branches from Kaitaia to Invercargill, AWF places thousands of people into skilled work every day from local businesses to the country’s largest companies and iconic brands.