Department store tells head office staff they MUST return to the office or their salary will be cut
- NZ department store Farmers paying 80 per cent of salary to locked down staff
- A letter sent to workers said they needed to return to office to get their full pay
- Auckland was downgraded from level 4 to level 3 Covid lockdown on Wednesday
Head office staff at a large department store have been told they need to return to the office or they will get just 80 per cent of their pay.
A letter sent to support staff, who work for Auckland-based chain Farmers, on August 27 detailed working from home arrangements at various lockdown alert levels.
‘At level 3 you will be paid your normal salary if you attend work,’ the letter seen by Stuff reads.
Farmers wrote to staff informing them they need to return to the office as Auckland moved to level 3 alert or only be paid 80 per cent of their salary
Auckland was downgraded from level 4 to level 3 restrictions on Wednesday after an outbreak in the New Zealand city of about 1.5million residents appeared to be stabilising.
Farmers told employees they should speak to their manager if they are unable to return to the office and they would ‘consider’ continuing to allow remote working.
‘I have young children and both my husband and I work full time. I cannot go into work as then my husband would be unable to work, so I am on reduced salary,’ one worker who asked not to be named said.
‘We agreed to this, but we all felt we had no option,’ they added.
First Union, which has members from the retail industry, claimed in early September Farmers had already reduced staff’s pay to 80 per cent during level 4.
This is despite Farmers Trading Group previously receiving more than $28million in wage subsidies from the government.
One worker said she found returning to the office difficult as she had two young children and many childcare centres remained closed (stock image)
The letter sent to Farmers staff explaining their work from home policy for lockdowns
The worker said those wanting to get back to 100 per cent pay but had difficulties in returning to the office were too scared to speak up because ‘no one wants to be discriminated or questioned over the lack of work output, a consequence of parenting and working at the same time’
First Union organiser Ben Peterson said Farmers were a difficult employer for him to liaise with and consistently found workarounds or grey areas to minimise costs.
Employment lawyer Susan Hornsby-Geluk said if workers were prepared and willing to work but were prevented from returning to the office due to government rules, the Employment Relations Authority indicated they should be paid in full.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Farmers for comment.