The wife of a bankrupt Nando's franchisee owner has been found personally liable to pay staff $70,053 owing in wages and holiday pay.
Corrado Ramada and his wife Kim Ramada ran a Nando's restaurant in Henderson where eight migrant workers were employed, according to an Employment Relations Authority decision released this week.
Corrado Ramada, the sole director and shareholder of the Adamar No 2 Limited firm associated with Nando's, liquidated the company and was declared bankrupt leaving staff unpaid, with one former employee owed more than $21,000.
In a case bought against the company by the Labour Inspectorate this month, Kim Ramada claimed she had no involvement in the firm, despite the fact that she was part of the management team at the Nando's restaurant.
When queried about pay, Corrado Ramada would tell staff to ask his wife instead of him "because she was in charge of such matters," the ERA's decision said.
With overwhelming evidence of her prior and ongoing involvement in the firm, the Employment Relations Authority ruled that she could be defined as a "company officer" and was personally liable for the arrears in wages.
Under the "company officer" definition in the Employment Relations Act, Kim Ramada was proved by the Labour Inspectorate to have "directed or authorised the default in payment [to staff]".
In a separate case bought by the Labour Inspectorate this month, the owner-operators of Indian clothing stores across Auckland were found personally liable for over $68,000 in unpaid wages owed by their companies.
Four migrant employments complained of being paid in cash and being asked to sign documents stating they only worked 20 hours per week.
"The Labour Inspectorate does not tolerate employers, including company officers, who fail to meet their obligations as employers to provide at least a minimum wage and holiday pay," said Labour Inspectorate regional manager Loua Ward.
"It is not acceptable to employ migrants, who may not be fully aware of their rights as employees in New Zealand, and exploit them for personal gain.
"We will not hesitate to pursue personally those who try to avoid paying their employees what is owed," Ward said.