Low wage payments cost business owner $200k

By George Driver

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

Paying foreign workers below the minimum wage has cost one Auckland business owner more than $200,000 following a determination by the Employment Relations Authority.

Three Auckland convenience and liquor stores, all owned by Ala'a Bader, were to pay a total of $211,574.33 in wage repayments and penalties for breaches of employment law, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment labour inspectorate northern regional manager David Milne said.

The action followed complaints last year by 11 employees who were in New Zealand on student visas from India and who worked at Civic Convenience, Symonds Liquor and Sky Liquor, he said.

Following an investigation, MBIE's labour inspectorate found the men were not receiving their minimum wage or holiday pay entitlements, were not provided with employment agreements, and accurate time and wage records were not kept, Mr Milne said.

The Employment Relations Authority determined $60,000 was to be paid as penalty for breaching the Minimum Wage Act 1983 and Holidays Act 2003; $55,000 was to be paid for breaches of the Employment Relations Act 2000 by not providing employment agreements; and $96,574.33 was to be repaid as minimum wages and holiday pay.

As the complainants were in New Zealand on student visas, this made them vulnerable and Mr Bader exploited this, Mr Milne said.

"Most fair-minded New Zealanders do not support labour exploitation. By breaking the law, these businesses gain an unfair advantage over their competitors," he said.

"The exploitation of workers is not welcome and breaches New Zealand law. The Labour Inspectorate will not hesitate to enforce and prosecute breaches of minimum employment standards such as minimum wage and holiday entitlements."

- APNZ

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