An employer of up to 50 temporary vineyard workers has been fined and ordered to pay staff $4000 after a probe revealed workers weren't being paid the minimum wage.

A labour inspector from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment carried out an investigation into Sione Uasi's viticulture labour contracting business Jkava Temping Solutions.

Uasi was issued with a notice saying he had failed to meet his legal obligations to pay his employees minimum wage and holiday pay.

Uasi claimed some of his employees had "cheated" him, he had debts of $50,000 and he was closing his Marlborough business.

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Investigations showed Uasi employed up to 50 seasonal vineyard workers and some of these workers were required to sign timesheets that were pre-recorded to show less hours than were worked.

Many of his staff were migrant employees and vulnerable to this type of exploitation, the inspector found.

The Employment Relations Authority ordered Uasi to pay a penalty of $7,500 to the crown for his actions, $4,129.49 to his employees and $1,821 costs and filing fee. Uasi did not attend the ERA hearing.

Read the full decision here: