A Greymouth catering company has been ordered to pay more than $10,000 for serious labour law breaches.
The Employment Relations Authority has ordered Chez Beirne Catering and Homestay to pay more than $6000 holiday arrears and has fined the company $4000.
The authority said the company's owners, Lynnette and Richard Beirne, appeared to have deliberately failed to pay, then tried to hide their failures.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Labour Inspectorate investigated Chez Beirne last year after receiving a complaint from a former employee who had worked as a catering assistant.
The investigation found that Chez Beirne had not paid the employee holiday pay, as legally required.
Chez Beirne also failed to provide the inspectorate with a copy of employment agreements, time, wage and holiday records, despite multiple requests.
The authority found that the employee should be paid the holiday arrears, plus interest. It also issued Chez Beirne with a $4000 fine for failing to comply with the Holidays Act.
The authority said the Beirnes had not provided any substantive reply to the claims made by the labour inspector. Nor had they complied with an improvement notice, served last July, requiring them to provide documentation.
The authority said the employee had worked about 30 hours a week for the company from July 24, 2011 to December 6, 2013.
She notified the inspector that she had not received any paid annual leave during her employment and had received $471 as holiday pay when her employment ended.
The inspector calculated she was owed $6348 for sick leave, bereavement and other leave.
The Beirnes were given until October 29, 2014 to pay up, or explain why they disagreed with the sum.
The inspector said neither had happened.
The authority ordered the company to pay the $6348. It did not order payment by instalments as it had no evidence the Beirnes' financial position required it.
The authority also imposed interest of 5 per cent a year. It said the Beirnes had not explained why they had failed to pay the correct sums, so it couldn't assess whether there was good reason for the failure.
The Beirnes appeared to have shown "prevarication and non co-operation" in their dealings with the inspector, the authority said.
They had apparently been "trying to hide their failures to pay, and that their failures were deliberate".
Their failure to pay holiday pay was a serious breach of the Holidays Act. The appropriate penalty was $2500, the authority said.
It imposed a $500 penalty for failure to pay final holiday pay and $1000 for failure to pay sick pay and bereavement pay. It ordered $1000 be paid to the employee and the remaining $3000 to the authority.
Costs were reserved, except for the authority's lodgement fee of $71.56 which the Beirnes were ordered to pay.
Labour Inspectorate southern regional manager Stuart Lumsden said the inspectorate took any breaches of minimum employment rights seriously.
"It is a concern that an employer felt they could bypass these laws without consequences. The penalty sends a clear message to employers that failure to comply with the minimum employment standards will result in enforcement action," said Mr Lumsden.
The ministry encouraged anyone in this situation, or who knew of anyone in this situation, to call its contact centre on 0800 20 90 20.
The Beirnes did not respond to calls seeking comment.
- Westport News