It’s been another busy summer for WWOOF NZ with lots of new hosts and WWOOFers joining the WWOOF family. Below are some quotes from WWOOFers we’d like to share:
“I really enjoy WWOOFing as I live like a local and get up with the sunrise and sleep not long after the sunset. I have learnt about the Maori culture, the hosts’ hobbies, their permaculture principles and have always been thanked for my work”.
“The wwoof experience in NZ was one of the best ideas for life of our family. We WWOOFed for 3 months with our kids as a family”.
“I have had the best time of my life through your WWOOFing movement” .
“This is the greatest experience of my life”.
Quite a few WWOOFers mentioned that they would love an app for WWOOF which will work on their Mobile phones. Apparently WWOOF Australia is getting the same feedback, and we are now working together with them to development of a WWOOF App. This is still in it’s early stages but we will be looking for some host and WWOOFer guinea pigs to test the system.
Volunteers vs Employees
The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment issued a position statement in late 2016 warning employers not to treat their employees as if they are volunteers. There is a an explanation of the statement https://www.employment.govt.nz/about/news-and-updates/inspectorate-says-no-more-disguising-business-employees-as-volunteers/ on the Ministry of Employment website.
MBIE had contacted us regarding 3 cases they were investigating but it turned out none of them were WWOOF members. This has however caused some concern amongst hosts wondering if what they are doing would be considered by MBIE to be “employment”. Our position is that WWOOFers are primarily coming to experience life on an organic property, share in the lifestyle, learn different methods for growing, harvesting, pest management, organic philosophy, homesteading skills etc. Of course WWOOFers become part of the household and will take on the usual tasks involved with living on a farm and being part of a family such as preparing and cleaning up after meals, collecting firewood, feeding the animals etc. We don’t necessarily expect to employ someone to do these jobs.
As another example, if a host has an organic poultry business their WWOOFer will likely want to spend some time learning how this is managed and get involved. MBIE are saying that if there is an economic benefit to the poultry business and/or the WWOOFer is integral to the business then the WWOOFer would be considered to be an employee. Exactly where this happens is a bit confusing. If the WWOOF hosts is alongside the WWOOFer sharing the experience, teaching, varying the activities then it seems unlikely this would be considered as employment. On the other hand, if the WWOOFer is shown how to do a task and left doing that each morning for a week then that is beginning to look like an employment situation and the host should consider employing someone and not be listed with WWOOF NZ.
We are asking hosts to ensure they are not using WWOOFers in situations where it could be considered to be employment.
We are working with an employment lawyer who is clarifying the definition of WWOOFers and how the employment law is interpreted. She has put together a briefing paper for presentation and has recently met with Andrew Little from the Labour Party with this paper. A tax specialist is also working to determine if WWOOFers do or do not fall within the tax system.
If you have any concerns or questions please contact us. If you have any specific situations you are concerned about please contact the office email@example.com with the details and we will look at it more closely.
When Things Are Not How They Should Be …
Being a member of WWOOF means that you are going to live in someone else’s house or welcome someone else into your family. It is a great opportunity to learn how others live. However, even with the best intentions in the world on both sides, things may not always work out. There may be a clash of personalities or unmet expectations. If this happens, neither host or WWOOFer are obliged to continue. Discuss the issue and see if a positive outcome can be found, if not decide on a departure date and leave each other on good terms.
If the situation is particularly concerning, it may be necessary to cancel the arrangement immediately and it is essential that you let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org Depending on the circumstances we may disable a profile temporarily or cancel the membership permanently.
We recently had a situation which we think is worth mentioning. When things went wrong between a particular WWOOFer and host, video evidence of it was posted on the Forum. By the time we saw the post, contacted the host and asked for a formal complaint a week had gone by and the situation between WWOOFer and host had escalated.
A reminder that there is a complaints policy in place which we follow and I would just like to reiterate that we are available and more than happy to be contacted and get involved if you have any issues or questions that you may need help with. We occasionally get contacted by hosts who are not entirely sure on how to deal with a situation they find themselves in. Most of the time the host just wants to talk it through and the situation gets diffused quickly. But please be assured that we are here for backup and will act on your behalf if necessary.
In terms of the Forum, it is good to see a lot of exchange of information and sharing of ideas however it is not really the place to post complaints about each other. Please consider the following before posting; If hosts are happy to post comments or videos with concerns about a WWOOFer, are hosts also happy for WWOOFers to post comments and videos with concerns about hosts?
Autumn is harvest season and we are busy bottling fruit, making chutney and jam and trying out new Kombucha flavours. We are always looking for interesting articles, recipes, photos or videos of WWOOFers and hosts to share on social media or in the WWOOF News. Please email us anything you think would be useful, interesting, or just so cool that you want to share it.