A man who hired illegal migrant workers and paid them less than the minimum wage has been sentenced to nine months home detention.

Bun Thuon Lam was also sentenced in Nelson District Court to 200 hours' community work and ordered to pay reparation of $10,000, to be divided between the six workers involved.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ), which laid the charges, said Lam employed the horticulture workers in the Tasman region knowing they were unlawfully in the country.

They were not paid the minimum wage for the hours they had worked, were not paid regularly and did not receive any holiday pay.


None of the workers had employment contracts and no wage or time records were kept.

A labour inspector analysis of the hours worked by the workers estimated they were underpaid between $5000 and $7000 each, INZ said.

Lam was previously taken to the Employment Relations Authority, which ordered him to pay five workers nearly $37,000 for unpaid wages, minimum wage arrears, public holiday pay, failing to provide individual employment agreements and making deductions from pay.

INZ's acting fraud and compliance manager Dean Blakemore said the employment of unlawful migrant workers would not be tolerated.

"This case shows that the consequences of such behaviour are serious. We will take swift action against any employer who is involved in such activity."

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment was treating this issue as a priority and INZ and labour inspectors' compliance activity was being increased, he said.

"Most employers and most migrant workers are complying with the laws of New Zealand - they are being undermined, and New Zealand's reputation sullied, by some who are breaking the law."