Ex-league star Matthew Ridge's car wash business pays up to migrant employees

By Lincoln Tan

Former rugby league star Matthew Ridge at his car-wash cafe in Auckland. Photo/Greg Bowker
Former rugby league star Matthew Ridge at his car-wash cafe in Auckland. Photo/Greg Bowker

A high-end car washing business, owned by former league star Matthew Ridge, has paid $35,151 in arrears to 97 employees, who are mostly migrant workers, after it was found with multiple breaches of employment law.

A Labour Inspectorate investigation had found Car-Fe Ltd, failed to provide correct holiday pay, keep proper wage, time and holiday records, or provide employment agreements.

The investigation found 37 employees were not provided with employment agreements, 13 employees were given ''90 day trial letters'' in lieu of contracts, and another six employees had employment agreements with no dates.

"Keeping proper employment records employment, providing written employment agreements, and correctly paying holiday pay are some of the basics of being an employer in New Zealand," Labour Inspectorate Regional Manager Loua Ward said.

"The Labour Inspectorate does not tolerate employers failing to provide employees with their minimum employment entitlements, and we will ensure that employers who continue to breach their obligations face consequences."

Car-Fe Ltd was issued an improvement notice last October to correct its employment practices and pay back arrears owed to employees due to the incorrect payment of holiday pay.

The company has since provided proof and the business now has compliant wage, time, holiday, leave records and employment agreements, the Inspectorate said.

As of March 1, the Improvement Notice conditions have been complied with and all arrears owed to employees have been paid.

"Migrant workers have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand, but are often more vulnerable to unacceptable work practices as many are less likely to be aware of their rights and entitlements," Ward said.

"While we are pleased that Car-Fe has gone on to pay their employees the arrears owed to them, we are disappointed to find these breaches in the first place."

Attempts by the Herald to contact Ridge were unsuccessful, and messages have been left for him to return our calls.

- NZ Herald

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