Wendy’s fails to meet payout deadline for workers not given lieu days

Former Wendy’s employees owed thousands by the fast food giant following an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ruling are still waiting on payment. 

Remediation payments for days in lieu not provided to former employees were supposed to be paid by March 31. 

Credits for days in lieu not provided to current staff were due to be given by February 28, an email from Wendco New Zealand’s lawyers, to Unite national director Mike Treen, said.

Former employee Jerome Pula said he and many others had not received their payouts and were “frustrated with the lack of care that Wendy’s has for their past and current staff”. 

Wendy’s chief executive Danielle Lendich said less than 15 per cent of former staff had yet to be paid.

“They’ve all been communicated with and we’re only talking a very small percentage now,” she said.

Wendco NZ, which owns the New Zealand Wendy’s franchise, was caught in 2017 not giving an alternative holiday to employees when they worked a public holiday that would have otherwise been a working day.

A Wendy’s Hornby employee, and the union, initially planned to complain to the ERA for not complying with the Holidays Act but the MBIE Labour Inspectorate stepped in.

Labour inspector Kim Baldwin challenged Wendco’s method of determining when an employee works on a public holiday. That decision affected whether or not that employee was entitled to an alternative holiday. 

Wendco disputed the complaint with the ERA, and the authority determined the company was interpreting a section of the law that says employees had to have worked the previous three weeks on the same day in order to claim an alternative holiday.

Instead they should have been determining whether it was an “otherwise working day”.

In November 2017 the ERA ordered the fast food chain to credit employees with an alternative holiday where applicable, and to pay ex-employees for any alternative days they missed out on.

After the ruling, the Labour Inspectorate cautioned other businesses.

Ex-employee Toni Annisa Tane, who worked at Wendy’s Palmerston North, said she was due payment for 15 days in lieu, which was worth about $1500.

She had not been paid and Wendy’s had not responded to her emails asking when she could expect the payment, she said. 

Tane received a generic email saying Wendy’s payroll remediation team had encountered anomalies and they were working to resolve them.

Pula said he was getting tired of the lack of communication.

A review team had been established and an email sent out after the ruling asking staff to update contact, bank account, IRD, and email details, Pula said, but after that it went quiet.

“The past 10-11 months saw no update until March 12 when we received an email that stated how many days we were owed. There was even a deadline that said “you’ll be paid before or on 31st March, 2019,” Pula said.

Some people had been paid by March 31, but it was clear not everyone had, Unite union general secretary Gerard Hehir said.

Lendich said Wendco hoped to pay all former staff by the end of the financial year . It was working through individual cases that had unusual circumstances. 

“Some have gone on maternity leave or they’ve gone on extended holidays, or there’s something unusual about their pay record that we have to take an individualised approach to everyone.”

A number of people’s payments had bounced back because of incorrect bank account details, she said.

A Labour Inspectorate spokesman said Wendco had informed the inspectorate they were encountering delays with their repayments to staff due to issues with its payroll system. 

“The inspectorate is actively monitoring the situation and will step in if they feel that action is required.”

Reference: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/112165489/wendys-yet-to-pay-out-workers-not-given-lieu-days?cid=app-iPhone

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