A Kapiti courier business contracted to CourierPost and its sole director have been ordered to pay more than $37,000 for multiple breaches of employment law.
Dhanoa Transport Limited and Arvinder Singh Dhanoa were penalised $12,000 and $4,000 respectively, and ordered to pay employees $21,640 in wage arrears by the Employment Relations Authority, following a Labour Inspectorate investigation.
The investigation uncovered 31 breaches of the Employment Relations Act, including failure to pay four employees minimum wages, failure to keep wage and time records for five employees, failure to correctly calculate and pay annual holiday pay for five employees and failure to provide valid individual employment agreements for six employees.
"Finding such poor practices connected to a well-known brand, like CourierPost, raises questions about the quality of their systems," said Labour Inspectorate regional manager Kevin Finnegan.
"It may be troubling for Kiwi customers to find that, while they thought they were making use of a trusted brand, they were, in reality, engaging with a company exploiting vulnerable migrant workers.
"True business sustainability should have positive social outcomes, as well as economic and environmental – and this means at least meeting all minimum employment standards."
In accessing the number and nature of the breaches the authority concluded that the total number of breaches by the company was 17.
The authority stated that given the Companies Register revealed DTL was the only company Dhanoa has held a position of director, he likely lacked experience in employment matters.
"I am not satisfied DTL deliberately attempted to avoid its obligations; however, ignorance of the law does not excuse a breach," the authority stated in court documents.
The company accepted that penalties should be paid, and Dhanoa cooperated with the labour inspector.
"In the case of Dhanoa, as this shows, if you don't do the research at the beginning, your business venture can end up costing much more," Finnegan said.
"Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Every employer has obligations they must meet, and when they fail to do so too often it's the workers at the bottom rung who are left bearing the cost.
"It also undercuts other businesses which do meet all their obligations. We are glad to see Dhanoa has now taken steps to be compliant and has repaid his affected employees.
"There is plenty of help out there for businesses to get employment right, with resources on employment.govt.nz, and tools such as business.govt.nz's Employment Agreement Builder."
Anyone concerned about their employment situation, or the situation of someone they know, should call 0800 20 90 20 where they can report their concerns in a safe environment.