An Auckland employer that paid its workers only $5 an hour while training may face prosecution for breaching the Minimum Wage Act.
The Kelston branch of the sandwich chain Subway also told new employees that they would have to pay the employer $1500 for the cost of their one-day introductory training if they quit the job within three months.
Youth Law solicitor Nick Harris said the provisions in the firm's employment contract were "abhorrent" and the $5 training rate wasa breach of the minimum wagelaw.
"That is just outrageous, quite frankly," he said. "I struggle to see how that could be justified at all under the minimum wage legislation."
Min Sheen Tan, 19, took his contract with Kelston Subway to Mr Harris and to the Labour Department after he was employed on November 21, yet failed to receive any formal training. He quit after three days.
Adrian Bray, who owns the Kelston and New Lynn Subway franchises in partnership with his brother Michael, refused to comment to the Weekend Herald on employment issues.
Mr Harris said he was surprised how often employers breached the minimum wage law, which sets minimums of $9 an hour for 16 and 17-year-olds and $11.25 for adults aged 18 and over. There is also a minimum training wage of $9 an hour for employees doing recognised industry training worth at least 60 credits a year. Unite Union fast-food organiser Jared Phillips said he had never heard of any employer paying as little as $5 an hour for training, or requiring refunds of $1500 for a day's introductory training.
The minimum wage law will tighten further next April under a new law passed in September, which will give the adult minimum to 16 and 17-year-olds after they have worked for either three months or 200 hours.
Labour Department employment relations policy manager Shane Kinley said the department had received Mr Tan's complaint and would make inquiries.By Simon Collins Email Simon