Bay kiwifruit employer owes $226k after breaching employment law

By -

A Bay of Plenty kiwifruit contracting business has been ordered to pay more than $226,000 by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) for breaches including not paying time and a half and denying minimum wage.

The pay out included $161,343.67 plus interest in money owed to workers and $65,000 in penalties for breaching the employment law.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment investigated Freemind Enterprize Ltd following a complaint by a former worker.

The investigation revealed the employer did not have written employment agreements, wage and time or holiday records for 121 employees that were hired to harvest kiwifruit in the Bay of Plenty between 2009 and 2013 - documents required by law and kept for six years.

The employer also failed to provide these workers with holiday pay and time and a half pay for work performed on a public holiday. One employee was also denied minimum wages.

Mr Gurmail Lally, director of the company has been made jointly and severally liable for the amounts owing.

Labour Inspectorate regional manager Natalie Gardiner said the Inspectorate is committed to ensuring those who are avoiding their obligations as an employer, including directors of companies, are held personally liable.

The inspectorate was in the process of contacting the former employees of Freemind Enterprize Ltd listed on the determination.

"It is likely that a number of these employees were temporary migrants who may have already left New Zealand," Mrs Gardiner said.

"The Inspectorate recognises that migrants are a particularly vulnerable section of the workforce and may often be reluctant to take action against their employer. This case makes it clear that failure by employers to provide such workers with all entitlements will not be tolerated."

The names of the employees are listed at the end of the ERA determination. MBIE encourages the named employees to call its contact centre on 0800 20 90 20 with their IRD number and contact details.

ERA determination:

For more articles from this region, go to

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 21 Oct 2016 09:50:01 Processing Time: 368ms