Failure to keep accurate payroll records translates into failure in court

"A failure to keep adequate records is fatal to the employer’s case where the stories are conflicting"

Matechuk v. Stackhouse, 2005 CarswellNB 224 (N.B. Labour & Employment Bd.)

New Brunswick’s labour board has ruled that an employee’s hourly wage did not include her vacation pay. Lara Matechuk went to work for Dianne Stackhouse’s horse operation in June 2003. She cleaned the barn, tack room and equipment, fed the 50 or so horses and did other related duties as required. She resigned in July 2004 to take another job.

In November 2004 Matechuk filed a complaint against Stackhouse, seeking $414 in unpaid vacation pay. Stackhouse claimed that during the initial job interview she had told Matechuk the job paid $8 per hour “all inclusive.”

During this hearing Stackhouse introduced “rough notes” as being payroll records. In these notes there were no ¬references to vacation pay.

In deciding in favour of Matechuk’s claim the New Brunswick Labour and Employment Board noted that under s. 60 of the province’s Employment Standards Act an employer is required to keep, for at least 36 months, a record of an employee’s name, address, social insurance number and the important details – including wage rates, gross earnings and vacation pay – of employment. The onus is on the employer to maintain accurate records, and any employer who fails to do so does so at her peril, said the board.

It found there was no documentary evidence to support Stackhouse’s contention that vacation pay had been included with Matechuk’s hourly wage. She had only kept “rough notes” and did not start preparing better payroll records until after Matechuk filed her claim.

The adding machine tapes provided to Matechuk as pay stubs make no mention of vacation pay due or paid, as required by the Employment Standards Act, said the board. It found in favour of Matechuk.

“A failure to keep adequate records is fatal to the employer’s case where the stories are conflicting,” said the board.

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