Gloriavale allegations: Labour Inspectorate has no jurisdiction

The Gloriavale compound. Photo: Greymouth Star
The Gloriavale compound. Photo: Greymouth Star
The Labour Inspectorate will not investigate allegations of long working hours in Gloriavale, saying its members are not employees under New Zealand law.

An inspectorate inquiry found it has no jurisdiction over the West Coast community and will not investigate or take any enforcement action at this point.

Inquiries into their employment status were conducted in 2017, after concerns raised by Charities Services, and again in 2020, after allegations of long working hours were made by two community members.

It found that no employment relationships existed within Gloriavale as defined by New Zealand's law.

In a statement, national manager Labour Inspectorate Stu Lumsden said the law defined an employee as a person who had agreed to do any work for some form of payment or reward under a contract of service.

"The evidence we evaluated showed that people who have lived or are living at Gloriavale gave service to the community without the expectations of being paid as individuals."

The Inspectorate second inquiry included interviews with 39 current and 13 former members of the Gloriavale community.

It reviewed a range of documents provided by the community and individual members, and sought advice from Crown Law in relation to the employment status of the residents.

From this information, the inquiry found that documents signed by Gloriavale members suggest that it was not their intention to enter into an employment relationship, but rather a "sharing community with religious beliefs as the focal point".

It said all Gloriavale members typically received the same benefits regardless of their role.

Lumsden acknowledged there may be concern about whether Gloriavale members were able to make fully formed decisions, but she said "this is not something the Labour Inspectorate can address within the scope of employment law".

The inquiry also stated there was no evidence that community members currently come under duress to sign the documents and that reasonable steps had been taken to support decision-making, including independent legal advice.

The community was also operating consistently "with the structures and philosophy set out in the relevant legal documents", the inquiry findings stated.

The Labour Inspectorate said it would continue to monitor the situation.

Anyone concerned about their employment situation can contact Employment New Zealand.

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