A Christchurch Thai restaurant has been ordered to pay $25,000 for failing to comply with minimum employment standards.

Bahn Thai Restaurant didn't provide staff with written employment agreements, failed to keep holiday and leave records, and failed to keep time and wage records, according to an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) decision, released today.

The Labour Inspectorate started investigating the business after a complaint from a former employee.

The inspectorate visited the premises and identified a number of other employees whose minimum employment requirements were being breached.


The owner claimed he had not been aware he was required to comply with minimum standards for temporary employees.

He submitted to the ERA that he was not proficient in English and was ignorant of the law, asking that these be considered as mitigating circumstances.

ERA member David Appleton disagreed.

"It is almost inconceivable that a businessman operating for ten years in a major city of New Zealand genuinely did not become aware that his business was obliged to issue its employees with employment agreements, keep wage and time, and holiday and leave records," he said.

The ERA assessed the breaches amounted to a total of $187,000. However, it was clear that the business would not be able to meet this amount, and that it would be out of proportion to the gravity of the breaches.

"When I stand back, and consider the breaches for which penalties can be legitimately sought, I consider that $25,000 is an appropriate penalty overall, as it combines effective and realistic punishment and deterrence on the one hand and 'affordability' on the other hand," Appleton said.

The inspectorate had also sought payment for staff who hadn't received what they were owed. However, all outstanding payments had been made and the $25,000 was to be paid to the Crown.