A German backpacker who believes she was scammed by her employers has taken to the media to ensure others are aware of unscrupulous employers.
When it comes to working in rural
NZ, knowing your rights can be
When the 24-year-old woman, who did not want to be named despite having returned to Germany, quit her Marlborough based vineyard job over a dissatisfaction with her pay, she found certain charges deducted from her payslip which she believes were unwarranted.
"They didn't want to pay fair money," said the woman, explaining that her employer charged her a NZ$100 (£50) 'bond' for 'tools deduction' which was not refunded when she finished work.
"My contractor cut money from my pay as a bond and said that they would pay it back when I quit.
"When I and a few other girls quit, we gave our bangs and tools back and have never seen our money again,
"We wrote plenty of emails, their answer was that they don't cut a bond from pay, but the problem is that I can see it on my pay slip.
"Most backpackers don't know their rights so that's why it's easy for contractors to do it."
While this particular backpacker may have only lost out on NZ$100, she highlights a common mistake among the backpacker community: when it comes to work, backpackers rarely know their rights.
Jenny Espiner, visa processing manager at the New Zealand Visa Bureau, says a working holiday is the time to let your hair down, but perhaps not your guard.
"A naive approach to employment rights combined with an optimistic attitude and a desire for adventure and new things typical to a working holiday can make for a nasty combination if you're not careful," said Ms Espiner.
"With many farms out in rural locations, unscrupulous employers can demand unfair payments and leave you without a viable alternative."
The Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry refuses to comment on specific cases but claims complaints overall are down as more people become aware of scams and New Zealand immigration authorities clamp down on employers exploiting their workers.
"Make sure you know your rights by checking the Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry site and if you ever have any doubts about a job offer or work location, either contact the ministry or you can contact Visa Bureau at ," said Ms Espiner.
- Dominic Ladden-Powell is Online Editor with the New Zealand Visa Bureau, an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for a Working Holiday Visa to New Zealand.
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